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ATAMANENKO: Relief needed from outrageous credit card rates

In the midst of the current economic recovery, families in BC have had to resort to exhausting their life savings and, in many cases, borrowing money from credit and financial institutions to make ends meet. For a large number of constituents who find themselves unemployed, under-employed or recently laid-off, this often means being forced to borrow against themselves in order to ensure that rent or mortgage payments are made on time, and that their families have enough food on the dinner table.

With personal debt soaring by a whopping 40 per cent since 2004 and a significant lack of regulatory practices, credit card companies are making record profits by gouging consumers with fees and rates that keep borrowers in an endless cycle of debt.

Last April, the NDP introduced a comprehensive plan that would help put an end to the predatory lending practices of major credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard. While the majority of MPs voted in favour of the NDP plan, the Harper Conservatives refused to act on the motion, siding instead with the companies that have helped create an outlandish mountain of debt for many Canadians, and allowing them to essentially police themselves.

Although the Conservative Government refuses to act, there is something that individuals can do to make sure they can keep their credit card debt under control. The NDP has prepared a credit card fee reduction kit.

The kit features the phone numbers of all major banking institutions in Canada, an easy-to-use script that can be used as a guide for consumers who want to lower their monthly interest payments, and contact information that will allow us to hear your feedback on this troubling matter.

While I am pleased to help consumers with this information and glad that I am able to inform them of measures to help reduce the burden of interest on credit card debt, the government must listen to the will of citizens and their representatives in the House of Commons on this issue. 

We must show the Conservative Government that we, as consumers, want credit card reform to be enacted.