A New Brunswick senator is calling for a broader study of credit card and debit card systems in Canada, saying she's troubled by developments that could increase fees at bank machines.

Pierrette Ringuette has twice asked the standing Senate committee on banking, trade and commerce to investigate the fees Canadians are paying. On Friday Ringuette said she was growing even more concerned now that the Interac consortium is in talks with the Competition Bureau of Canada about changing its not-for-profit status.

The senator said that change would be dire news for consumers and businesses.

"You would see increases in fees in regard to transactions you do with your debit card exponentially, like at ATM machines, everywhere, including the fees that the business community has to incur," she said.

Ringuette said she'd like Canada to adopt a cap on how much banks can charge businesses and consumers for fees, similar to legislation already adopted in Australia.

Rising bank fees hitting businesses

The New Brunswick senator said fees for using the cards have been steadily increasing since last spring. And it's not just consumers that are being hit.

She said small and medium-sized businesses are being charged exorbitant fees for accepting the cards. And she said a cap similar to the Australian model would also help businesses.

"They've legislated a cap on the interchange rate that the company can charge to the small and medium-sized business community at 0.45 per cent," she said.

"So if we would have right now the same kind of legislation as Australia, the Canadian small and medium-sized businesses would have $6.7 billion more by the end of the year."

With the key overnight lending rate at historic lows, Ringuette wants to know why consumers are being threatened with higher fees and interest rates.