While the PC caucus supports Bill 15 and protecting all Albertans from falling into a spiral of uncontrollable debt, we saw few details on the promised alternatives of micro-lending that will support all Albertans. For example, the new micro-loans will not offer loans less than $500.
We have seen in jurisdictions around Canada that there are fewer payday loan options when borrowing rates are lowered. That is why alternatives to payday loans such as micro-loans must be in place when the government implements these changes to regulations. Otherwise, there is a severe risk that Alberta’s most vulnerable will be left stranded without access to any type of short-term loan – payday loans or from a credit union.
The details provided on micro-loans from First Calgary Financial Credit Union only outline short-term loan alternatives that will support Southern Alberta. While changes to payday loans kicked in on the first of August, the supporting alternative provided by First Calgary Financial will not be available for a number of weeks. It’s also concerning to see no alternatives in place for northern Albertans, including those in Fort McMurray -- who are likely facing the toughest financial times they ever have with recent wildfires and floods hitting their homes.
It is absolutely of the upmost importance that we ensure Albertans are not taken advantage of when it comes to loans. But when the government begins picking winners and losers in the loan industry, we run the risk of short-term loans not being widely accessible for vulnerable Albertans. Choices are even less available as you move from rural to remote parts of Alberta. What guarantee can the Service Alberta Minister provide that all Albertans will be able to access short-term loans when they need it most? A full slate of alternatives must be shared with Albertans now that the government has pulled the trigger on payday loan legislation and has more stringent plans for payday lenders in the near future.