Rural Canadians are raising their voices against a wave of bank and ATM closures. Indeed, at the beginning of the month of April, local residents of Ripon, Quebec met in a local church to protest against the closure the Desjardins ATM.
The credit union defends itself by stating that ATM usage dropped 13% since 2015, but residents complain that the role of a credit union vs a bank is to respond to the needs of the municipalities they represent.
Ripon residents were able to collect 2000 signatures for a petition against the closure of the cash machine. “I am president of a co-op and I believe that by definition a co-op is supposed to work in harmony with its members, not against them” states president of Coopérative de Solidarité Place du Marché Vincent Ouellette-Destroismaisons for La Presse [in French]. Indeed, Desjardins closed the village’s only ATM without notice in December 2017 three days prior to the opening of the Christmas market – a highly anticipated event where most transactions are carried out in cash.
Residents of other villages in the region have also joined forces to protest against the credit union’s actions. The Mayor of Ham-Nord, a village of 850 residents, notes that his town collected over 1200 signatures in collaboration with other four municipalities, but that regardless of these efforts, Desjardins has refused to reconsider its decision.
These cuts come at a time when the credit union is actually making profits. In fact, Guy Cormier, President of the Desjardins Movement, states that the bank recorded a 2,15 billion surplus, 21% higher than the previous year and that revenues were up 9% reaching 15,4 billion.
Customers regret the credit union’s attitude, which is failing to consider the needs of residents of rural and remote areas. Local Mayors even went as far as to propose paying for ATM operating costs or sharing the costs of a teller, but Desjardins has accepted none for the time being.