A recent private member’s bill introduced in the Ontario Legislature to put a stop to what critics call corporate “gouging” on migrant workers and immigrants, who count on remittance services to wire money to their loved ones overseas, is gaining ground among Caribbean nationals in Toronto.
The bill, drafted by Jagmeet Singh, the New Democrat MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton, would cap the rates in Ontario to no more than 5 per cent of the money transferred.
The proposal would also require financial institutions such as MoneyGram and Western Union to disclose any hidden fees in transactions. Singh said that this is an important issue for a large number of people in Ontario who are not being charged a fair rate.
He said it makes it difficult for them to send money to their loved ones. Support the bill Acton McKenley sends money to family in Jamaica three times per month and said it cost him $10 per transaction.
He is in support of the private member’s bill that would allow him to send more money to his family because of a reduction in fees charged. Leon Leon, who operates a Caribbean grocery where remittance service is available, it would be good for the public and it would help more people.
“I think it’s wise time that the government see that we are paying enough tax that we can share and help our family,” he said. Gertrude Peterson sends money to family in St Lucia and thinks any bill that means less charges to migrant workers and immigrants should be supported.
“Somebody should be there to protect the smaller, weaker people, like it’s ridiculous, we work hard for our money and we are trying to send home money for family and friends for whatever situation, said Joan, a customer in Leon’s grocery.
The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper and the Ottawa Citizen have written editorials in support of the private member’s bill. So too has Share, Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper.
Margarett Best, Ontario’s Minister of Consumer Services, said the government will look at the bill and watch its progress through the legislature. She also said the government would monitor the situation.
Private members bills rarely get passed into law. Five per cent is a rate recommended by the World Bank in the global remittance industry that has a $325-billion yearly cash flow - $7.5 billion estimated in Canada alone - from 215 million migrants sending money to family members in developing countries.
The World Bank and the G8 group of countries pledged in 2009 to bring remittance costs worldwide down to 5 per cent by 2014. The World Bank says remittance payments amounted to $501 billion U.S. last year; $372 billion of that went to developing countries.
A recent study by ACORN, an advocacy group for low-income families, showed the average cost of a $100 remittance ranged from $3.70 to $13.26 at MoneyGram and from $40.18 to $50.84 at HSBC, depending on the speed and level of service. Western Union’s average rate internationally ranged from $13.47 to $21.07.