Banking without a job: workshop aims to help laid off Calgarians talk to their financial institutions

So, you're one of the thousands of Calgarians out of work and running out of money. Will your bank give you a break on your mortgage or maybe reduce your fees? You can always ask. That was part of the message at at workshop on Tuesday designed to make banking a little less intimidating for the unemployed.

'I need to go to my bank and say, 'Hey this is my situation, what can you do to help me?'"

Laid Off Calgary founder Bianca Sinclair wanted to give members of the support group a chance to talk about their banking issues in a safe, non-judgmental environment. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

So, you're one of the thousands of Calgarians out of work and running out of money. Will your bank give you a break on your mortgage or maybe reduce your fees? You can always ask. That was part of the message at at workshop on Tuesday designed to make banking a little less intimidating for the unemployed. 

The meeting, organized by a group called Laid Off Calgary, was held at ATB's Entrepreneurship Centre on Tuesday.

The event covered topics from deferring mortgage payments, to what help is available for people looking to start their own businesses.

Cecilia Pavao, who lost her accounting job about a year ago, says the workshop motivated her to talk to her bank.

"I just want to look at banks from a different perspective," she said.

Rafael Quintero, who was laid off a year and a half ago after doing IT work for 25 years, came to the workshop to hear about help available for prospective entrepreneurs. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

"Of course they're going to charge us x dollars for all their fees and services. But I need to get over that fear. I need to go to my bank and say, 'Hey this is my situation, what can you do to help me?'"

Bianca Sinclair, founder of Laid off Calgary, says she wanted to create a space where people could have frank discussions with bank representatives in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

"I had this sense that people had this fear or stigma around you know, when do I tell my bank I am laid off or not working right now," she said.

"I might need some help financially, can I defer my mortgage?"

Rafael Quintero, who was laid off a year and a half ago after doing IT work for 25 years in the oil and gas industry, said he got useful information in the workshop.

"I'm lucky because I got a good severance package that lasted for a year But right now I'm on EI and still have some savings. But it's not a good feeling that you're eating your savings," he said.

"I was more focused on the different services they have for future entrepreneurs, like office space and being able to book the boardrooms for your meetings and things like that."