MPP calls for cap on money-transfer fees in Ontario

A New Democrat MPP has brought forward a private member's bill that seeks to limit the fees that Ontarians pay to send money overseas.
New Democrat MPP Jagmeet Singh has introduced a private member’s bill that seeks to put a cap on the fees that money-transfer agencies can charge Ontarians. (CBC)

A New Democrat MPP has brought forward a private member’s bill that seeks to limit the fees that Ontarians pay to send money overseas.

Jagmeet Singh says that Canada has many citizens and residents sending money to relatives abroad, but there are only a limited number of money transfer companies to work with and no limits on the fees they can be asked to pay.

In some cases, people in Canada are paying fees of 15 or 20 per cent, which Singh says is unfair and above the global-average of 10 per cent for such services.

"The issue here is about fairness," the Brampton-Gore-Malton MPP said during a news conference at Queen’s Park on Thursday morning.

"Individuals are sending money back to their loved ones, to those in need.  And the issue is that there is no cap."

Under his private member’s bill, money transfer companies would have to cap remittance fees at five per cent, while also requiring greater transparency about what consumers are being asked to pay.

"This is a step forward in terms of addressing the realities of Canada and Ontario and the GTA, that there is a significant immigrant and new Canadian population and this would provide some fairness to those who wish to send money back to their loved ones," Singh said.

The call to cap fees is being met with support from the anti-poverty group ACORN Canada, whose president Kay Bisnath says that the people landing in Canada are sending money back home where it is dearly needed.

"Their loved ones’ very survival depends on the money that they receive from maybe their father, or brother, or mother, whoever is over here," said Bisnath, who appeared alongside Singh at the Thursday morning news conference.

Singh is unsure of how much support he will garner from the Liberal government for his bill, but says it should be clear to his fellow legislators that the issue means a lot to voters.

"There’s quite a large number of ridings that have a significant immigrant population, or new Canadian population," he said.

"So there would be politically some kind of persuasion for them to support this type of bill."

Later Thursday, Consumer Services Minister Margarett Best gave no promises of support.

"We’ll have a look at the bill and watch its progress through the legislature," she said Thursday.

"We’ll also be monitoring the situation."

Private members bills rarely get passed into law.

With reports from the CBC's Mike Crawley