Protecting Canadian consumers

I had a constituent contact our office recently because of an incident with her credit card.

A department store transaction had resulted in an interest charge that seemed entirely unfair to her.

Interest charges on department credit cards are usually the highest at 29.9% and as with any credit card, the failure to pay your credit card debt within the thirty days allowed, certainly can end up costing you.

It’s the reason it is so important to understand the terms and conditions in place when we sign on to receive a credit card.

To be fair though, all the fine print and terms and conditions associated with financial products can be confusing.

For that reason, the federal government has been busy working to make the everyday financial products you use fairer and more transparent.

Canadians deserve clear and direct information so they can make the best financial decisions in their best interests – and that’s happening more and more with pro-consumer measures.

Under new rules, all credit card applications and agreements must have all significant information, like interest rates, grace periods and fees, clearly and noticeably stated in plain language; no more text so small you need a magnifying glass to read it and more plain language so you don’t need a legal dictionary to understand it.

As well, monthly credit cards statements must now include a clear indication of how long it would take someone to pay off a balance when only making the minimum payments, at current interest rates.

Advance notice must now be provided on monthly credit cards statements if interest rates are going to increase during the next statement period.

Beyond these new rules for credit cards there is more.

Starting in August, we’re shortening the cheque hold period to give immediate access to the first $100 dollars of a cheque cashed at a federal financial institution to give Canadians timely access to their own money.

We’ve also brought in a new code of conduct to ensure more transparent information for home-buyers on the often confusing issue of mortgage prepayments.

This is especially important because with clearer information, Canadians can better manage what is often the biggest investment of their lifetime – their home.

The code of conduct will require mortgage lenders to provide straightforward details on what rights home-buyers have and what obligations they face (including potential penalties) when paying down their mortgages.

Additionally, the code also requires this information also be provided at renewal and in annual statements.

And, finally, we are banning unsolicited credit card cheques that you’ll often see in your mailbox.

These ‘cheques’, if used, are considered cash advances – which generally means higher interest rates and fees, and, like cash advances, interest begins to accrue immediately.

By banning unsolicited credit card cheques, consumers will now only receive them if and when they request them, and when they have made a fully informed decision to do so.

The bottom line? Be informed before you sign on the dotted line.

If you would like more information on these and other pro-consumer measures introduced by our government please visit www.fcac.gc.ca.

Back in the Riding

I’m looking forward to being back in the riding next week from March 19th to 24th. If you want to meet with me to discuss issues related to the federal government, please call my constituency office at 250 470-5075 and make an appointment and I’ll do my best to accommodate you. Otherwise, feel free to drop me a line anytime at [email protected].

Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country

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About the Author

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons. His hobbies include music and sports.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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