One of the proposals announced in the federal budget last week was the introduction
of measures to help ensure Canadians have access to safe, reliable
and lower-cost remittance services. Recognizing that international
remittances are critical to many Canadians who provide financial
support to their families abroad, the proposed measures included
establishing a remittance price comparison website that will
increase fee transparency. While no specific regulation was
proposed, the government stated its intention to work with
financial institutions to evaluate possible opportunities to expand
access to lower-cost remittance services.
The budget announcement followed the recent introduction of
three private members' bills dealing with the regulation of
On April 2, 2015, Private
Member's Bill C-665, An Act to amend the Bank Act
(international remittance transfer fees), received first
reading in the House of Commons
On April 15, 2015, Private
Member's Bill M 215, Business Practices and Consumer
Protection (Money Transfers) Amendment Act, 2015, received
first reading in the British Columbia legislative assembly
On April 15, 2015, Private
Member's Bill 88, Consumer Protection Amendment Act (Money
Transfers), 2015, received first reading in the Ontario
These private members' bills, all introduced by NDP members,
propose to limit the fee that can be charged for a money remittance
to five per cent of the amount transferred. All three bills also
propose a requirement to disclose, in respect of each money
remittance, the total fees payable and the applicable exchange
rate, if any. Unlike the federal bill, which would amend the
Bank Act and apply only to banks, the provincial bills
define "money transferor" as a supplier who transfers
money for or on behalf of consumers through any person or entity
and by any means, including an electronic funds transfer network or
an alternative remittance system. However, the provincial bills do
not propose a licensing or registration regime for money
transferors, such as the money services business regime introduced
in Quebec in 2012.
While private members' bills do not often become law, they
do bring matters to the attention of the government, the media and
the public. Notably, this is reminiscent of the way in which gift
and prepaid card regulation gained traction. Private members'
bills on that topic were introduced in some provinces ahead of the
government passing legislation. The proposal in the federal budget
regarding remittance services confirms that this topic is now on
the federal government's radar. Where there is smoke, there is
bound to be regulation.
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