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Canadians urged to speak up for credit unions

Campaign asks Canadians to write Ottawa in support of tax credit

MyCUmatters-ScreenNational trade association Credit Union Central of Canada has launched an online campaign aimed at getting the attention of federal policy makers.

The “My Credit Union Matters” campaign supports a proposed capital growth tax credit for credit unions. The recommendation, included in Credit Union Central of Canada’s pre-budget submission to members of Parliament, would generate an estimated $700 million in lending to small businesses, farmers and families, according to the organization.

“The visibility of credit unions is not as high as it should be. They’re vital to the economy, they play an important role in serving Canadians across the country, and I think the differences between credit unions and banks is not clearly understood,” said Martha Durdin, president and CEO, Credit Union Central of Canada. “We’re trying to mobilize credit unions, board members and [customers] to raise the profile of why credit unions matter to the economy and to Canadians.” The campaign also sends the message that credit unions “warrant different treatment from a policy perspective than other financial institutions.”

The association noted that credit unions are among the leading lenders to small business. As financial co-operatives, credit unions don’t issue shares on capital markets like banks do, so that on average, nearly 80% of credit union capital is retained earnings, compared with less than 45% for banks.

“Credit unions don’t have shareholders—they give their profit back into the communities in which they work,” said Durdin. “Their retained earnings are their source of capital and because of that, they shouldn’t be taxed the same way as banks… We’re proposing a new tax credit that would put credit unions on a more even keel with banks.”

The campaign website allows Canadians to send a letter directly to the Minister of Finance and their local member of Parliament to let them know that “My Credit Union Matters.” The website also invites visitors to share how their credit union has helped them and their community.

Credit Union Central of Canada is working with credit unions across the country to promote the campaign, as well as using its own social media channels, newsletters and PR to get the message out.

“This is not a campaign with an end date,” said Durdin. “We’re pushing it through the fall and we’ll decide when we think we’ve made an impact… It will morph into something else because these are important messages that policy makers need to hear.”

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