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  • How credit unions help communities thrive

How credit unions help communities thrive.

Credit unions have a proud and rich history of giving back to their members, and supporting the communities in which their members live and work. Nationally, all credit unions share a similar set of values—enriching community and creating a positive social impact through innovative approaches to every day banking, and through an army of committed, dedicated employees. There are 252 credit unions nation-wide, serving 5.72 million members. Credit unions contribute over $6.5 billion directly and indirectly to Canada’s GDP and are the only financial institution operating in 395 Canadian communities.

Taken together, credit unions are in fact Canada’s largest bank, supported by Canada’s largest ding free ATM network. In the DNA of every credit union is a spirit and a drive to create prosperity for the communities they serve—building financial health through professional advice, world class investment products, savings solutions for all income levels and by simply keeping money in the pockets of their members. That’s another area where credit unions differ from the big banks.

Members are shareholders

Credit unions pay dividends to members, and operate for impact unlike banks that focus on short term return for shareholders. The profits credit unions generate are used to fund new business services and expertise, and are directed into the communities in which their members live and work. This member-centric approach also means lower fees, co-operative dividends, community investments, and Canada’s largest surcharge-free ATM network, all focused on keeping more money in their members pockets.

Community first

Last year, credit unions across Canada gifted $62.4 million through donations, sponsorships, scholarships, foundations, and volunteer hours. In addition to that, every year credit union’s give back on average 5.4 per cent of pre-tax profits to local community organizations. Co-operative values really are the foundation of what credit unions stand for. Nearly 80% of credit union employees choose to volunteer their time toward community initiatives. This time is unpaid, outside of regular work hours. In 2017, credit union employees contributed 302,035 volunteer hours to their communities.

Driving growth and innovation

Credit unions work with local, provincial and national governments to address pressing public policy issues, including developing a variety of initiatives and programs to improve the financial literacy of Canadians, offering the first viable alternatives to payday loans, and collaborating with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to raise consumer awareness of financial issues.

Credit unions want their impact to be felt in their own local communities—from helping people manage debt through financial literacy, to supporting access to capital for small businesses and farmers—but also to collectively impact our national community as a whole. That’s what our credit union philosophy of collaboration and cooperation has allowed us to achieve: a strength that goes beyond our numbers, and an impact that is felt by millions of Canadians.


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These articles are made available to you as tools for independent use and are not intended to provide investment advice. We cannot and do not guarantee their applicability or accuracy. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes only. Please visit your branch to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals for all personal finance issues.