Trudeau And Freeland Address The Loss Of Banking Services In Rural Locations Like Grand Manan Island, NB

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Trudeau And Freeland Address The Loss Of Banking Services In Rural Locations Like Grand Manan Island, NB

"Businesses, so far, are doing okay," said Grand Manan Island Mayor Bonnie Morse, just two weeks after Scotiabank closed the doors to the island's only bank after over 100 years on the remote island in Southwest New Brunswick.

Despite lucrative fishing and tourism industries on the island, earlier this year Scotiabank announced it would consolidate the Grand Manan branch with its St. George branch on August 24. That means island residents, of which there are about 2500, now have to make a 9-hour roundtrip, which includes the added expense of a ferry ride to the mainland, to do in-person banking.

"When the summer ferry stops after the tourism season slows down and we go back to having just one ferry, that will complicate things for people traveling as well," says Morse. 

While Scotiabank says it is assisting in transitioning islanders to doing more online banking, the impact isn't just hit seniors and the technologically challenged. Islanders fear new businesses won't open and existing ones could close if they are forced to lose a full day's operations simply to make a trip to the mainland to visit the bank.  

"This fall will tell the tale of whether we adjust to things and where we go," said Morse before noting that "Grand Mananers are resilient" and "will figures things out."

While in St. Andrews by-the-Sea for a three-day caucus meeting with Liberal Member of Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland were asked by the media why the government continues to protect Canadian banks from foreign competition while not giving rural Canadians a reciprocal guarantee of service from these protected banks, especially in remote but prosperous locations like Grand Manan. 

"Canada has one of the most stable banking systems in the world. When the 2008 banking crisis came and went, Canadian banks stood strong and Canadians did better because of the structures, institutions and structures that we created around Canadian banks. Canadians who have their savings in Canadian banks are protected. That's something that we take seriously as a government," said the Prime Minister on the wharf in St. Andrews on September 13, 2022 during a press conference before deferring to the Finance Minister for comment. 

"The fact that Canada has a strictly regulated banking sector with high reserve requirements and pretty tough mortgage rules is something that Canadians today should be taking a lot of comfort from," said Freeland. "We have a system that is stress tested, and as the global economy is going through a lot of stress, it is like a big life-jacket for Canadians. The issue of having actual bank branches in rural communities and particularly right now in Atlantic Canada is one that our government is very aware of. We have been having some conversations with banks about it and some rural communities. We are committed to continuing to listen to Canadians about that."

Minister Freeland followed up to say that she is aware of the situation on Grand Manan and is looking into it. 

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Video Upload Date: September 14, 2022

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