Alberta Needs to Push for More Payday Loan Alternatives
One third of payday loan shops have shut down, but where are the low-cost alternatives?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2019
OTTAWA, ON – Alberta has managed to shrink the number of its payday loan shops in operation, but that doesn’t mean consumers are better off, according to a new Cardus report, The Changing Face of Payday Lending in Canada. Since Alberta introduced interest rate caps in 2016, 30 percent of payday lending shops in the province have shut down. Meanwhile, credit unions haven’t stepped up to provide better, lower cost alternatives to payday loans, despite the shutdown of so many payday lenders. Alternative, lower cost loans account for only 0.09 percent of the volume of all loans in Alberta.
“Alberta consumers now have far fewer neighbourhood options for emergency loans than before,” says report author Brian Dijkema. “We know from polling Cardus has done with the Angus Reid Institute that 33 percent of Canadians say they’re so socially isolated, they’re not sure they’d have someone to turn to in case of a financial emergency. So, the need for emergency cash remains. While having fewer payday loan storefronts might look better, those desperate for credit might end up more dependent on impersonal and hard-to-regulate online lenders.”
The Cardus report also revealed other significant shortcomings in Alberta’s approach to payday loans: the province has little idea of whether it has actually helped consumers use fewer payday loans. The government hasn’t collected or published any data on consumer behaviour in this regard.
“Governments have not focused enough on how best to help those who are depending on short-term, high-interest loans,” says Dijkema. “If you’re going to change policy, you should do the follow-up to see if new measures actually helped.”
Cardus – Director of Communications
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Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, communities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.