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Flaherty Misses Opportunity to Help Canadian Businesses and Consumers

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s announcement today of new regulations for the credit card industry completely ignores the calls for strong action by businesses and consumers across Canada who are facing skyrocketing fee and interest rate hikes at a time when our country’s economy can least afford it, said Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette today.

“People across this country are losing their jobs, and are increasingly turning to their credit cards to get them through these tough economic times,” said Senator Ringuette.  “The Minister’s announcement today will have absolutely zero impact on Canadians who keep hearing that interest rates are dropping, but see their credit card rates getting higher and higher.”

Notably absent from the Minister’s announcement were measures to help the business community across Canada who face increased fees for accepting and processing credit and debit card payments.  Canadians paid over $4.5 billion worth of fees for credit and debit card processing in 2007 alone.

“This is a government that claims they’re serious about stimulating the Canadian economy, but they’ve clearly missed their opportunity to provide relief to small and medium sized businesses who are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Senator Ringuette.

“This announcement today is a slap in the face to the business community in Canada, who have clearly told both the Senate and the House of Commons Committees studying this issue that they need help when they’re faced with hidden fee and rate increases from the credit and debit card companies.”

The Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, as well as the House of Commons Finance and Industry Committees have both undertaken studies into the credit and debit card industry, at the request of Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette, and Liberal Members of Parliament Dan McTeague and Anthony Rota.  Both Committees are expected to table their reports before Parliament adjourns for the summer recess.

“While Canadians are sitting around their kitchen tables, trying to balance their own budgets, and getting hit with 24% interest rates on their credit cards, the Minister of Finance today said the real problem is that the fonts on their credit cards statements aren’t big enough for them to understand,” said Senator Ringuette.

 “That’s just plain insulting.”