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Editorial Support Lines up for Remittance Cap in Key Ontario Papers

ACORN Canada fighting for Justice in Remittances

Delhi   With the introduction of a member’s bill in the provincial parliament of Ontario by New Democratic Party MPP Jagmeet Singh from Toronto to amend the Consumer Act to put a 5% hard cap ceiling on remittances as requested by ACORN International and ACORN Canada as part of the Remittance Justice Campaign, support is lining up for the bill.  The influential Toronto Sun editorialized in favor and the Ottawa Citizen joined in the call for support for the measure.

The Ottawa Citizen had an interesting take with a conservative twist:

The best way to drive costs down is to encourage competition. For some recipient countries, new players and technologies have led to better prices. For others, there’s an oligopoly and high prices. It seems unlikely that the most punitive fees will come down without regulation.

In 2009, the G8 vowed to bring global costs for remittances down to five per cent by 2014. Market-based approaches, such as greater transparency in fee structures, are crucial to this effort. But they haven’t brought fees down very far.

The Citizen got it.  The standard business ideology may make predatory practices and glib assurances standard operating procedure, but when such rapaciousness cannot be impacted by fairness, it is time for legislation and regulation.

The Toronto Star started perhaps in a better place of understanding the importance of remittances and the cost structure, but they also made a powerful point:  all parties needed to support the legislation.  In other words this is too important to allow narrow partisanship to stand in the way and allow Money Gram and Western Union to fleece the pockets of migrant and immigrant workers.

No other province caps remittance fees, but the idea is no different in principle from limiting the interest charged on payday loans to prevent low-income earners from being gouged. Ontario did that in 2008.

All parties at Queen’s Park should back Singh’s bill. It would be an excellent step toward helping out some of the hardest working and most deserving people among us.

The same arguments could be made throughout the world, but for now the momentum is building in Canada where the leadership is, and the quick editorial support puts the pressure on for change!

Check out ACORN International for more information on remittance campaigns and how you can help.


Ontario Bill a Big Step Forward for Remittance Justice Campaign

ACORN members Amadeo Flores, left, regularly sends money to his elderly parents in Spain, while Rohan Jagroo has been wiring money to friends and family in Trinidad for 17 years.

New Orleans     After a year of stirring the pot in one country after another about the crime of predatory price gouging of migrant and immigrant workers through ACORN International’s Remittance Justice Campaign and our multiple reports exposing these abuses, ACORN Canada has led the way to the next step having secured a sponsor for legislation that would finally put a hard cap on money transfer organizations and the rates they charge.   A member’s bill is being introduced today in Toronto at Queen’s Park in the Provincial Parliament by NDP’s rising star, MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea-Gore-Malton).

Simply put, the text of the bill indicates that it would amend the Consumer Protection Act in Ontario to require that MTO’s like Western Union, MoneyGram, and a host of others cannot exceed 5% in charges for remittances.  A Toronto Star article yesterday pictured one of the ACORN members, Amadeo Flores, originally from Spain, and Rohan Jagroo from Trinidad, and detailed the thousands of dollars that they were fleeced over many years of wiring money to friends and families in their home countries.  In their cases the charges to these established routes were more than 10%, though ACORN International studies have shown that the full package usually exceeds 20%.

Nonetheless the G-8, including Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, and others, joined by the World Bank, have called for a cap on the cost of such transfers of only 5% and that is what the Ontario legislation is demanding.  Many banks have even higher rates than some of the MTO’s but those are national banking matters subject to federal legislation in countries like Canada and the United States, so we will continue pushing on those fronts.

Similar legislation is planned for British Columbia and later in the year for Honduras.  ACORN Italy has this on its agenda for later in the year as well.  With research support from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, we are deepening our survey, research, and policy initiative currently in Mexico with the help of a full-time summer researcher on the ground with ACORN Mexico in la Neza right now.

What’s at stake?  Billions that could dwarf the collective foreign aid budgets of all the developed countries back to the developing world.

This campaign is entering a new and important stage and building momentum for huge changes that could make an amazing difference to lower income families and their communities around the world.