A B.C. community group took to the streets Tuesday to call on the federal government to crack down on “predatory” lending companies charging astronomical interest rates.
Members of the group Acorn Canada demonstrated in front of an Easy Financial branch in Surrey before taking their message to MP Randeep Sarai’s office.
The group is asking the federal government to cap the interest rates payday and installment lenders can charge at 30 percent, and to include any fees in that figure.
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At present they are allowed to charge up to 60 per cent interest.
Acorn member Murray Martin said, “Our members get terminated for any reason—an accident, or they don’t get COVID or whatever—they don’t bill for a month.”
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“They come into one of these places not knowing they’re going to get into a debt cycle, and then five, 10 years later their debt keeps piling up because they can’t even afford to pay the fees and the interest. There are, yet the principals.
Outside an Easy Financial branch, an employee told Global News that their interest rate was 46 percent per annum, and that customers should not be concerned as the information is on the first page of the contract they must sign.
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But people dependent on loans say it is not that easy.
Single mother Janna Martin told Global News she took out a payday loan that multiplied, with interest rates as high as 50 percent.
“I took those loans because I had no choice, I needed to feed my kids,” she said.
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“You start the vicious cycle of doing it the next month because you’re short of money.”
In October, the federal government discussed capping interest rates on such alternative lenders.
Acorn said he hasn’t heard anything from the government since then, and is hoping to light a fire under MPs.
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“If you’re desperate you’ll do anything to feed your family, right? And the rent is so high people will pay rent to take shelter. And then they won’t have money for anything else. So they are willing to do as well,” said Lori Pedersen, chair of Acorn Barnaby.
In a statement to Global News, the federal Department of Finance said “the government remains committed to cracking down on predatory lenders,” adding that it was “in the process of reviewing submissions” collected last fall.
Martin said the government needs to act fast, as Canadians are increasingly being squeezed by the rising cost of living.
“Any kind of regulation and lower interest rates are going to help people who have these loans right now,” he said.
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