Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Getting a Bank Account

... can be a challenge for people without sufficient identification.

It's not as straightforward as simply getting or maintaining one's identification. Think of the fees to renew most types of government-recognized ID. People of very low income haven't room in their budgets for such expenses. I have been unable to renew my Canadian citizenship card or passport, which I should have done in 2003. The fees for renewal are $100-plus and the application must be accompanied by a new photo, an additional $10 minimum cost.

All of which means that when a service to which most people have access requires that one have ID, people of very low income can be blocked from having equal access. Banking is one such case.

Now there's news of the Toronto Dominion bank relaxing some of its restrictions. People in British Columbia receiving government social benefits are being encouraged to get an account, rather than being blocked from doing so.

It's about damn time.

It's also about damn time, governments waived all fees, subject to a person's income, for the renewal of necessary documents. After all, it's governments' own rules that make certain documents mandatory.

1 comment:

wondering said...

I can get behind that!

While I can personally afford to pay for passport renewal, it is ridiculous that mandatory (or essentially mandatory) ID has a cost - especially now that voter identification has become more stringent. I believe that free provincial ID (recognized federally/across Canada) is a better solution than lowering identification requirements, given the increase in identity theft, etc.

And yes, banks and credit unions need to do more to service the poor and working class. My partner is a shiftworker and doesn't trust telephone or internet banking (and will only use ATMs for withdrawals) because he doesn't trust them. But that means that he sometimes only has one day a week to do banking in person and that day is often a Saturday. Our credit union is open Saturdays but many banks aren't.

(BTW, found you through Accidental Deliberations.)