NDP MPs Jasbir Sandhu and Jinny Sims to host public forum on affordability

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JASBIR Sandhu, MP for Surrey North, and Jinny Sims, MP for Newton-North Delta, along with Glenn Thibeault, MP for Sudbury (Ontario) will be presenting a public forum on affordability in Surrey on January 20.

Thibeault, who is the Official Opposition Critic for Consumer Affairs, launched the New Democrat’s campaign for affordability last summer. The campaign focuses on unnecessary costs that target Canadians, namely ATM fees, credit card fees, pay day loans and pay-to-pay fees.

Currently there are no regulations for ATM fees, which, for some banks, are 12 times higher than what the transaction costs. These financial institutions, along with credit card companies, who charge excessive amounts of interest, are continuing to gut Canadians’ wallets.

For unexpected costs between paycheques, more and more Canadians are relying on pay day loan institutions, who can charge up to 1000 per cent in interest, although Canadian law dictates that it is a crime to charge more than 60 per cent.

However, the concerns are not solely with financial institutions. More and more corporations, including phone, utilities, cable and internet companies, are now charging for delivering a paper copy of their invoice; clients must pay to pay their bills.

This is an issue that Surrey MPs are acutely aware of. Says Sandhu, “Affordability is a concern I hear often in my riding. It is becoming increasingly expensive to live in Canada when you consider the multitude of expenses for the average family – rent, food, transportation, and then costs for accessing their own money and for trying to make ends meet. It isn’t fair.”

Sims blames the current Conservative government for many of these problems. She says, “There is limited legislation to regulate financial institutions, leaving them free to charge Canadians more and more. These costs will continue to grow if they are not confronted. Instead of addressing the needs of Canadians, the Conservative government continues to hand banks and credit card companies billion-dollar tax cuts. This is unacceptable.”

Thibeault is travelling through Canada to seek the input of Canadians on these issues, as well as to share the NDP’s plans for targeting these unfair costs. The Public Forum will be in Surrey on January 20 at 7 p.m. at the City Centre Library, Room 418.