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The Credit Union
Credit Unions...Trusted by Millions of Canadians
Welcome to the financial institution that counts you in as acustomer, as a member and as an owner.
More than 1 in 3 Canadians are members of credit unions or their French language equivalent, caissespopulaires. Were popular across Canada because we offerknowledgeable and friendly service, with a uniquecommitment to local communities.
Millions of CanadiansThe principle of putting members first galvanized the growth ofcredit unions. Thanks to a hundred years of member loyalty,Canada is now home to 1,196 credit unions and caissespopulaires, spread across all 10 provinces. And while the firstdeposit was just one dime, credit unions and caisses populairesacross Canada are today managing $142.7 billion of deposits in3,469 branches. As our 10.6 million members will tell you, creditunions and caisses populaires work for and with their members,making a difference in their local communities.
The credit union differenceIf you walk by one of our branches, or use our on-line services,you might think we are just like other financial institutions. Butheres the difference: a local credit union is a financial co-operative, owned by its members, who are also customers. It isowned and controlled by the people it serves.
Full range of servicesThe 1,196 credit unions and caisses populaires in Canada are proudof their financial expertise and friendly service. Credit unionsoffer a full range of financial services savings and chequingaccounts, loans, lines of credit, mortgages, RRSPs, RRIFs, RESPs andinvestment opportunities as well as trust, estate planning andinsurance programs. Talk to us! Were committed to helping youachieve your financial goals.
Serving Members FirstYou dont just open an account with a credit union you join acredit union. Membership is the most distinctive feature of thecredit union system.
Sharing a common bondAs a member, you share a common bond with your fellow creditunion members. In a community credit union, you are allresidents of the same community or region. In other creditunions, you may belong to the same profession, share an ethnicbackground or work in the same industry.
You have a voiceCredit union members are also shareholders. The fundamentaloperating principle of credit unions is democratic ownership...one member, one vote, regardless of the amount ofshareholdings or deposits. That means you have a voice, alongwith other members, in setting the credit unions direction at thelocal level, where services meet your needs. You can also sharein the distribution of earnings and seek election to the creditunions board of directors. Furthermore, you could be elected toregional or national boards or committees.
Tradition and InnovationCredit unions have been serving Canadians since 1900, whenAlphonse Desjardins founded the first caisse populaire in Lvis,Qubec. Back then, ordinary working people had little access tothe commercially-centred banks. Organized locally, according toa co-operative model, credit unions provided urgently neededsavings and lending services, at fair rates.
Credit union firstsAs financial institutions structured to respond to member needs,credit unions boast a rich history of innovation. Full-serviceautomated teller machines (ATMs) were first offered in Canada bycredit unions, as were electronic payment cards, retail debit cardpurchases and daily interest savings accounts. Even theweekly/biweekly mortgage payment, now widely available, wasintroduced by credit unions to help members reduce their debtmore quickly.
Full Range of ServicesLike other financial service providers, most credit unions are full-service financial institutions that offer the followingservices to both individuals and businesses:
Savings and chequing accounts
RRSPs, RRIFs and RESPs
Business products and services
Farm financial services
Loans, lines of credit and mortgages
Mutual fund dealer services
Investment dealer services
Retirement planning services
Financial management services
Trust and insurance services
Services in person, electronically, via the Internet or over the telephone.
Cards and credit unionsOur members value the convenience of debit and credit cards which is why we offer a full array of these products.
Like most financial institutions, your local credit union offerscredit cards in association with either the MasterCard or VISAorganizations.
Credit unions also issue debit cards the MEMBER CARD DebitCard you normally use in Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Thiscard allows you to pay for goods or services at a retail or serviceterminal by means of an electronic transfer of funds from youraccount.
Credit union cards can be used at:
AccuLink ATMs and branch locations across Canada
MasterCard/CIRRUS ATMs, or
Interac ATMs and retailers in Canada.
Note: There is no surcharge on MEMBER CARD Debit Cardtransactions at any publicly accessible AccuLink ATM. And theresmore... many credit unions offer Buyer Protection/ExtendedWarranty and CHOICE REWARDS Loyalty benefits on theMEMBER CARD service.
Want to find the nearest credit unionbranch or ATM? Its easy on the Internet.
Just go to www.cucentral.caand under the "locator" title, click on CreditUnions or ATMs
Caring For CommunitiesUsing sound financial judgment, credit unions put membersdeposits back to work in the local community, through loans tomembers and investments in local initiatives.
Thats just one way credit unions contribute to theircommunities. But the commitment goes much further than that.
Community Economic DevelopmentAs strong supporters of community development, credit unions playa major role in fostering community well-being by:
investing in community projects, such as the construction ofsports and recreation facilities for public use
sponsoring various community activities and events, such as fairs, sports teams, school competitions
initiating public education programs aimed at fostering a better understanding of financial matters
promoting community economic development, such as lending programs for low-income people and microbusinesses, investments in affordable housing and businessmentoring programs.
Awarding community achievements
To encourage this activity, the credit union system established thenational Credit Union Award for Community EconomicDevelopment. Now in its 17th year, the award celebrates theaccomplishments of credit unions that have helped theircommunities overcome challenges and invest in the future.
Local, Provincial, National Tiers
The credit union system is organized in three tiers local,provincial and national. Each tier is designed to provide service tomembers, under a system where sound business practices aremarried to social principles.
Primary/Local tier (p. 6-7)At the local level, most credit unions are full-service financialinstitutions with a wide range of products to match memberneeds. Although linked provincially and nationally to othercredit unions, each credit union operates independently,under the direction of a board of directors elected by their members.
Provincial tier (p. 12-14)Provincially, local credit unions may hold membership in a "Central", which provides them with corporate financial servicesand development support. Centrals also constitute importantlinks to government and to the national co-operatives.
National tier (p. 14-15)The third tier is at the national level, consisting of a number offinancial co-operatives and Credit Union Central of Canada,the national trade association for credit unions in Canada.
The Primary Tier: Local Credit UnionsHow your credit union works
Members come first at your credit union. The fundamentaloperating principle of credit unions is democratic ownership:every member has at least one share and one, but no more thanone, vote in the decision-making process. All members, therefore,are equal owners, regardless of the size of their respective creditunion deposits. Every member has the right to seek election tothe board of directors and committees.
Board/staff roles and relationshipsCredit unions are regulated by provincial legislation, and eachundergoes audits and annual inspections to ensure strictadherence to sound financial practices. The board of directorsrepresents the interests of the members, sets policy, andoversees the general operation of the credit union, whilequalified staff maintain the hands-on responsibility for day-to-day operations.
Board elections/annual meetingElections for the board of directors generally take place at thecredit unions annual meeting. Not only a forum for elections, theannual meeting provides an opportunity for the board to reportto members on the activities of the credit union over the pastyear. Members have an opportunity to discuss matters of concernand can vote on policy decisions and any proposed amendmentsto the bylaws of their credit union.
Director training programCredit union directors serve in a volunteer capacity. They aretypically individuals who hold leadership positions within thecommunity. To help directors serve members better, credit unionsoffer the Credit Union Director Achievement (CUDA) program.CUDA is a formal certificate program available from CUSOURCE
Credit Union Knowledge Network and Credit Union Institute ofCanada, the national education training organization for theCanadian credit union system.
Thousands of credit union di