As a health-care professional for many years, I’ve always been passionate about helping people. I believe that you can judge a society by how they respond to vulnerability. That’s why I am incredibly proud to be a co-sponsor of Bill 15: An Act to End Predatory Lending.
I was interested in the payday loan situation in Alberta well before I was elected. A friend once confided in me that she had used a payday loan service. I could not believe the cost for a small, short term loan. Upon further delving, hidden charges and fees were what I discovered. That troubled me. Some of the situations people found themselves in really opened my eyes.
Life is notorious for throwing unexpected curve balls. Many people have found themselves in situations facing a sudden cash crunch. When children outgrow their winter coats and boots, you may find yourself in a tough financial spot. Maybe your car breaks down, and the cost to fix it is just too much for your budget. Sometimes, the only available solution is a payday loan.
Payday loan companies play an important role by providing credit to those who might not have access to conventional options. Considering the high interest rates and additional fees, the cost of borrowing could be enough to drive the client further into debt. The Act to End Predatory Lending will help keep unconventional borrowers from falling into the vicious debt cycle. Payday lenders will be prohibited from charging additional hidden fees (such as cheque-cashing fees), from arranging further credit agreements while a loan is still outstanding and from actively encouraging people to obtain payday loans.
Regulations under the act also allow the government to establish standardized loan agreements, cancellation forms, pre-authorized debit agreements and similar documentation so that clients can count on being treated fairly when they take out a payday loan.
As the MLA for Red Deer-North, I think all Albertans deserve a fair and equitable chance to access a small, short term loan. They should be able to access one that doesn’t drive them further into debt. This month Alberta’s Payday loan regulation was negotiated from one of the highest fees charged in Canada to the lowest. I am very proud to stand with a government that is taking steps to provide protection against financial vulnerability. The Act to End Predatory Lending is your government’s belief and commitment to a stronger more resilient Alberta.
Kim Schreiner, NDP MLA for Red Deer North