First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union

April 12, 2013 13:13 ET

First West Credit Union Responds to the NDP's Proposed Tax Hikes, States Concern About the Negative Impact to Businesses, Communities and British Columbians

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 12, 2013) - The provincial tax increases proposed Thursday by NDP Finance critic Bruce Ralston will without a doubt negatively impact British Columbia's co-operative banking sector says First West Credit Union.

At a press conference yesterday, Ralston promised that if elected to a majority, his party would increase the corporate income tax to 12% and reinstate a 1% corporate capital tax on financial institutions with local head offices and capital holdings of more than $20 million, making B.C. the only province in Canada to impose a corporate capital tax on credit unions.

B.C.'s third-largest credit union, First West Credit Union, is concerned that the NDP's fiscal plan, if brought to fruition, could do significant harm - not only to the province's respected credit union system, but also to the communities it serves. "B.C.'s credit unions give back millions annually to the communities they serve," says First West CEO, Launi Skinner. "The proposed tax increase would do more than just hurt credit unions' ability to help their members and provide thousands of British Columbians with good jobs - it would also seriously impede our ability to give back. It's our communities that would ultimately suffer."

The impact is even greater than the ability to give back - it affects accessibility and choice too. "There are dozens of communities in B.C. where local, member-owned credit unions like ours are the only banking option," she adds. "Credit unions are simply the collective financial strength of hard working families, the small and mid-sized businesses in our towns and the local charitable organizations trying to make our part of the world better."

The NDP's announcement comes at time when B.C.'s credit unions are experiencing new financial pressures on multiple fronts. Just weeks earlier, the federal government announced plans to begin phasing out a tax deduction previously available to credit unions - a measure Skinner says will hit small and medium-sized credit unions that don't qualify for the exemption particularly hard. Additionally, B.C.'s provincial government regulators have recently increased requirements for credit unions' capital holdings, adding further strain.

"For decades, credit unions have played a significant role in contributing to the economic prosperity of British Columbia, making this province stronger by providing British Columbians equitable, grassroots banking alternatives," says Skinner. "Approximately 42 per cent of the provincial population is served by a credit union so it's crucial that our government - regardless of who's in power - support financial cooperatives for the benefit of the 1.9 million British Columbians who choose to bank locally and invest in B.C. communities."

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $7.1 billion in assets under administration, more than 171,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 40 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit firstwestcu.ca.

Follow First West Credit Union on Twitter: @firstwestcu

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