With thousands of Saskatchewan people facing financial challenges because of the economic impacts of COVID-19, NDP Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon is calling on the banks to cut credit card interest rates, and on the provincial government to protect families from predatory lending.
“People in our province were already stretched before COVID-19 hit, with half of Saskatchewan families living paycheque to paycheque. Now, with mounting job losses and layoffs, many families are at a breaking point,” said Wotherspoon. “We need to act now, before more families get trapped by massive credit card bills and gouged by predatory lenders during this vulnerable time.”
Wotherspoon called for three measures to put people first:
- For credit card lenders to cap their interest rates at 11% or less for all cardholders – not just those cardholders who apply.
- For the provincial government to cap the maximum interest rate for short-term loans at 19% from the current maximum of 59.9%,
- For the provincial government to cap the maximum fees for payday loans at $15 per $100 borrowed, as Alberta has done.
“I know first-hand how easy it can be for families to become trapped by high-interest loans, and how difficult it is for those families to get out,” said Alysia Johnson, an advocate for lending fairness. “The government can protect and empower Saskatchewan borrowers who are facing an incredible amount of uncertainty and whose lending options become more precarious by the day. If folks feeling the pressure are faced with borrowing rates of 59.9% in their greatest moments of desperation, frankly, you’ll be measuring the damage to their financial health and well-being in years, not months.”
“Saskatchewan people are doing their part to address the threat to public health posed by COVID-19,” said Wotherspoon. “We need the big banks and the provincial government to step up and ensure that families will come out of this crisis with healthy finances that set our province up for a full economic recovery.”