What are Credit Unions in Canada?

From www.central1.com

In Canada, credit unions trace their roots to the early 1900s with the first caisse populaire, formed by Alphonse Desjardins, in Levis, Quebec.

Today, there are 623 credit unions and caisses populaires in Canada, with almost 3,000 branches. They hold combined assets of $350 billion and serve more than 10.1 million members.

Throughout its history, the Canadian credit union system has maintained a record of sound, prudent financial management, solid growth and unparalleled service to members. To this day, credit unions and caisses populaires continue to play an important role in fostering community development.

We’re not banks

Credit unions are financial cooperatives. Their products, services and operations — and even their physical appearance — may resemble those of banks, but there are some major differences. The biggest ones are that they’re locally owned and invest their profits in the communities where they operate; where their members live and work.

Retail customers (we call them members) own credit unions, which are democratically governed on the cooperative principle of “one member, one vote,” regardless of the amount that a member has on deposit or invested in the shares of a credit union. Subject to rules adopted by members, every member has the opportunity to stand for election to the Board of Directors and vote for candidates who are looking to become volunteer directors tasked with establishing the long-term vision of their credit union — they’re also the bosses of CEOs.

In a nutshell, credit unions are accountable to their members.

Unlike banks, credit unions are autonomous. Each one has its own brand identity, management and Board of Directors, but they’re united through provincial centrals. These provide financial, technology and trade services to their member credit unions.

We, as an example, are the central for credit unions in B.C. and our members in Ontario. They own us — just like individuals in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces own the credit unions where they bank.

Known as a “credit union system,” this is a network of independent credit unions. They’re chains of cooperatives — and there’s power, support and stability in numbers.

The Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA) is the national trade association for the Canadian credit union system. It’s also a cooperative, owned and governed by Canada’s credit unions and caisses populaires (outside Quebec).


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