OTTAWA – The Harper government says it will support an NDP motion to abolish banking fees charged to people who receive paper bills.
Finance Minister Joe Oliver says the government is backing the motion to get rid of so-called pay-to-pay fees because people feel they are being nickeled and dimed by the big banks.
Oliver dismisses the suggestion that the Conservatives are following the NDP’s lead on the issue, saying the government has already taken steps to lower banking fees.
The government’s decision comes after a separate NDP motion to exempt feminine hygiene products from the GST won unanimous approval last week in the House of Commons.
The government subsequently introduced legislation to kill the tax.
Last year, the federal government blocked telecommunication and cable companies from charging fees for paper bills, but banks were excluded from the legislation.
“Yes, we will support the motion because we understand that Canadians do not want to pay additional fees to the banks,” Oliver said Monday after question period.
“This is something that is actually consistent with what we have, in fact, been doing. We’re not following (the NDP), they’re following us.”
Andrew Cash, the NDP consumer protection critic, told reporters he hopes the government passes legislation before the Commons rises for the summer.
Asked about that deadline, Oliver said this kind of thing takes time.
Cash, who tabled the motion, said the banks collect about $180 million a year from people who receive their bank statements in the mail.
The fees, he added, target vulnerable communities, including seniors and those who don’t have Internet access.
“We think this is unfair,” Cash said. “You shouldn’t have to pay a fee to pay your bill.”