There is growing concern among governments, consumer advocates, credit counsellors and educators that not everyone is able to access affordable financial services. Some of the issues causing concern include the prohibitive cost of alternative financial services such as payday loans, cheque cashing services, pawn shop loans, rent-to-own agreements, and the growing lack of financial literacy amongst Canadians in general.

In recent months, new legislation governing payday loans in Manitoba and other provinces has created a climate of debate and heightened public awareness regarding these issues. There’s a growing demand for viable, affordable, accessible community choices for basic banking and credit services particularly to meet the needs of vulnerable populations including newcomers, seniors, youth, aboriginal people, low income consumers and the working poor.

Now a unique coalition has come together to organize Manitoba’s first conference  dedicated to creating more community-based financial services. Coalition members include: Community Financial Counselling Services; Community Financial Services Centre; Consumers’ Association of Canada (Manitoba) Inc.; Consumer Protection Office; and the Public Interest Law Centre of Legal Aid Manitoba. 

“Our goal is to drill down and identify what real barriers people are facing in obtaining basic financial services such as savings accounts and credit and explore how to overcome these barriers,” said Gloria Desorcy, conference organizer. “We’ll look at what models have been attempted elsewhere to learn what’s worked and what has not.” 

“We are seeing an increasing number of people in financial difficulty,” said John Silver, conference organizer. “They are turning to payday lenders and debt settlement agencies because their traditional financial institutions do not provide the services they need or have simply left their communities.” 

The two-day conference, entitled Creating Community Options for Financial Services will be held September 21 and 22, 2011 at the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, and features 3 keynote addresses, 2 workshops and 6 panel discussions. 

Conference details are at http://www.ccofs.com/ 

Journalists are welcome to attend and one-on-one interviews are available now with conference organizers:

Gloria Desorcy, Consumers’ Association of Canada (Manitoba) Inc.
CELL: 998-3707
452-2576 or 1-888-596-0909

John Silver, Community Financial Counselling Services
989-1900 or 1-888-573-2383