FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Minister Orazietti February 16, 2016
Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
6th Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1L2
Dear Minister Orazietti,
Today, Hamilton took a historic step. Our city is on track to be the first in Ontario to crack down on predatory lending. I have seen the impact these practices have on neighbours in my community first hand. A payday loan of $300 can accumulate up to $1638 with interest in a year, trapping residents in a cycle of economic violence. To better serve our communities we need to do more and together we can do more.
Today, the Hamilton Planning Committee approved a staff report to licence predatory lenders. The report takes steps to ensure payday loan businesses post signs of the actual interest rate charged to consumers, provide City of Hamilton approved credit counselling brochures, and create a unique licencing category for payday loan outlets. These changes reflect the limited tools we as a municipality have to give neighbours a fair shot to make ends meet.
Now, I respectfully request the Province of Ontario do its fair share to stop predatory lending. The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services’ current consultations on predatory lending presents an opportunity to strengthen consumer protection. For your consideration I have included a prescriptive list of recommendations brought forward during community consultations and through the work led nationally by ACORN and locally the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction to strengthen consumer protections and stop predatory lending in Ontario.
I strongly recommend the Province of Ontario enact regulations to restrict payday lending. Whereas Ontario currently has no cap on the maximum amount of money lent through payday loan outlets and Quebec and Manitoba lead the nation in protecting consumers from predatory lending. I feel strongly that Ontario take this opportunity to enact better legislation and become a national leader in protecting consumers and restricting predatory lenders. Such recommendations at a minimum would ensure the amount lent is no more than 30 per cent of an individual’s income, the cost of borrowing is capped at $17 per hundred, a $20 default fee charged, a 2.5 per cent, per month maximum interest on arrears, and that Ontario legislation provide creditor protection against unfair collection practices and harassment by businesses who purchase overdue debts third party.
Predatory lending has a tremendous impact on residents and communities across Ontario. Hamilton has taken the first step but together we can and must do more.
City of Hamilton Ward 3 Councillor
Enclosed are prescriptive policy recommendations from ACORN, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, and community consultations that I have collected that I strongly urge the Ontario Government to consider. These recommendations were supported by Hamilton Planning Committee on February 16, 2016.
i. Make it a criminal offence to charge more than 30% interest per annum
ii. Make loan flipping and excessive refinancing illegal and require a signature of the borrower for all changes to the terms of the loan
iii. Institute interest and financing fee caps
iv. Institute government mandated registrations for all loans and require all companies that provide loans and financing in Canada to register with the government
v. Make it easier to report predatory lenders through a formal complaint process
vi. Restrict how consumers can use payday loans through a transaction tracking system
vii. Require payday lenders to take into account the borrower’s ability to repay by limiting the amount lent to a portion of their net income
viii. Lower the cost of defaulting on a loan by lowering the maximum default charge and by setting a total maximum monthly default costs
ix. Apply debt collection rules to the purchasers of overdue debts. Currently Ontario’s debt collection protection rules focuses on collection agencies rather than the owners of debt (3rd party collectors).
x. That the Min. of Social Services the Hon. Helena Jaczek implement a livable social assistance rate and that restrictions be made on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability usage of payday loans