Thank you, Chair. As always, the Canadian Bankers Association is pleased to be here today to participate in the Finance Committee’s annual pre-budget consultations. The CBA represents 60 banks including domestic, foreign subsidiaries and foreign bank branches operating in Canada.

At the outset, I would like to add the CBA’s voice to the many thousands from across the country who have expressed deep sorrow at the shocking events which took place on Parliament Hill and at the National War Memorial last week. We join all Canadians in offering our sincere condolences to all those affected by this terrible tragedy.

Before I discuss our recommendations, I would like to highlight that Canada has some of the best managed and capitalized banks in the world. Canada’s banks are also well regulated. But don’t just take my word on this. For the past seven years Canada’s banks have been rated the soundest in the world by the World Economic Forum.

But what does this mean to Canadians? Of all the companies that Canadians have relationships with, few are more personal and more important than the relationship people have with their bank. Canadians look to their banks to safeguard their money, help finance a home or business, manage their savings and investments, and plan their retirement.

And our public opinion research shows that Canadians trust and value their banks. Overall, 90 per cent of Canadians have a favourable impression of their bank.

And Canada’s banks contribute to the economic health of the country in many ways:

  • Canada’s banks authorized $940 billion in business lending, with $200 billion for small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Canada’s six largest banks paid about $8 billion in taxes to all levels of government;
  • Banks provided $13.5 billion in dividend income to millions of Canadians through their pension plans, RRSPs and direct share ownership; and,
  • Banks employ 280,000 Canadians in communities across the country.

I would now like to address the CBA’s pre-budget submission to this Committee.

Our submission outlines several recommendations.

Firstly, we support the efforts by federal and provincial governments to strengthen their fiscal positions by returning to balanced budgets, while maintaining a competitive tax environment.

Secondly, we encourage the government to maintain the commitment to a competitive corporate tax rate and that the provinces maintain a ten per cent target corporate income tax rate. We also look to provinces to eliminate existing capital taxes on financial institutions and to refrain from instituting new capital taxes.

Thirdly, we encourage federal, provincial and territorial governments to continue to work towards the reduction of trade barriers between jurisdictions, both within Canada and internationally.

Fourthly, we support the federal government’s efforts to have all provincial governments put in place legislation enacting a Cooperative Capital Markets Regulator as soon as possible.

Our final recommendation is around supporting the government’s efforts to promote financial literacy in Canada. Financial literacy is a priority for the government and for Members of Parliament, as it is for the CBA and our member banks. As you know, banks are an active and important part of the daily life of most Canadians. In fact, 96 per cent of Canadians have an account with a financial institution. That means that millions of people turn to banks every day for financial advice. But banks go well beyond this and are leaders in financial literacy activities and initiatives in communities across Canada.

For its part, the CBA has provided financial literacy in high schools over the past 15 years, reaching over 220,000 students in ridings across Canada through our non-commercial Your Money Students seminar program.

Tomorrow, we will be unveiling our new financial literacy program, Your Money Seniors. This free, non-commercial program will be presented to seniors groups by local bankers volunteering their time and expertise. The program will:

  • Offer tips and information to retirees or soon-to-be retirees about cash management,
  • Offer important info on how to spot and avoid financial abuse, and,
  • Prepare seniors to spot financial scams targeted at them.

We will be sending information on the program to your parliamentary offices shortly and I would encourage you to review that material. We do need your help in promoting these programs to seniors groups and high schools in your riding, and I would encourage you to get in touch with us and we will gladly work with you.

Thank you for inviting us here today and I look forward to your questions.