Monday, May 4, 2009

Province’s credit unions maintain growth, service levels despite current climate

Despite a downturn in the global economy that adversely affected many financial institutions around the world in 2008, Manitoba’s credit unions continue to grow and succeed, thanks to an ongoing commitment to exceptional member service and competitive rates.
Last year marked the ninth straight year of double-digit growth for the credit union system, with total assets increasing by 11.9 per cent to hit $14.4 billion by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the system’s combined loan portfolio grew by 14.7 per cent in 2008 (to $12.1 billion), while total deposits increased by 11.5 per cent to $13.4 billion.
Overall, credit union market share in Manitoba, at nearly 41 per cent, has never been higher. This is particularly true with small- and medium-sized businesses, with 51 per cent of owners belonging to a credit union and 94 per cent of those business members listing a credit union as their primary financial institution.
The continued growth of credit unions in difficult economic times is a tribute to the loyalty of credit union members. In turn, Manitoba credit unions repaid that loyalty by contributing over $3 million to a variety of community based groups, initiatives and charitable organizations in 2008, as well as by awarding $125,000 in scholarships to Manitoba students.
The strength of the provincial credit union system, which employs 3,300 Manitobans, remains a bright spot in today’s difficult economy.

Credit union success not limited to Manitoba

The success of the credit union system isn’t limited to Manitoba. Across Canada, credit unions continue to thrive and attract new members.
According to Credit Union Central of Canada (CUCC), the national credit union system’s assets, savings/deposits and loans all recorded solid gains in 2008. Assets rose 8.7 per cent to reach $113.8 billion; over the past five years, the increase in assets was 45 per cent. Deposits and savings increased to $100.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, and loans grew 7.2 per cent over year end 2007. Four of the 10 provincial credit union systems — including Manitoba — reported double-digit growth in each of the three main financial categories: assets, savings/deposits and loans.
The national system now includes 444 credit unions with more than 1,700 branches across the country. There are more than 5 million credit union members in Canada. The system also employs 24,000 Canadians.

Service, accessibility remain a constant for Manitoba credit unions

While the Manitoba credit union system is always evolving, members may have noticed that the pace of change has accelerated in recent years. Indeed, thanks to a spate of credit union amalgamations in Manitoba over the past decade, the total number of credit unions in the province has decreased from 67 in 1999 to 48 today.
But what’s important for members to understand is that while the sheer number of credit unions may have decreased, access to credit union branches and services has never been easier or more convenient. For instance, there are 182 credit union branches in the province today, up from 161 in 1999. Credit unions now have a physical presence in 118 Manitoba cities, towns and villages, and in 67 of those communities a credit union is the only financial institution in place to serve consumers, businesses and producers.
On top of that, Manitoba’s credit unions are continuously striving to offer more ways for members to use technology to access their credit union, either through the network of more than 200 ATMs around the province or through the convenience of Internet and telephone banking.
That’s because Manitoba’s credit unions are committed to the Co-operative Principles and to meeting the needs of their members, both today and into the future.

Pay for it with your Credit Union MasterCard, pay it forward with your Choice Rewards points

If you have a Credit Union MasterCard, chances are you’ve already heard of the Choice Rewards program, which allows you to collect points every time you use your Choice Rewards MasterCard for purchases.
The points you receive can then be redeemed for merchandise and travel rewards. Those features alone make the Choice Rewards program enticing, but did you know you can also redeem your Choice Rewards points for donations to two national charitable organizations?
By calling the Customer Contact Centre at 1-888-546-5487, you can use your points to make a charitable donation to either the Canadian Cancer Society or the United Way of Canada. A minimum donation of 2,500 points (the equivalent of a $25 donation) is required. Tax receipts will be issued by the charitable organization and will be sent to you directly on a bi-annual basis.
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers, whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer.
The United Way of Canada provides guidance and support to Canada’s 119 United Ways, which work locally to change living conditions for the better.
For more information on the Choice Rewards program and its charitable donations component, visit www.choicerewards.ca.

Operator card worth considering for boaters

For many Manitobans, summer means spending time at some of Manitoba’s plentiful beaches and lakes. If you’re planning to get away to cottage country this summer and you think you might be operating a boat, you may want to consider obtaining a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC).
While not required this summer, Transport Canada has stated that as of September 15, 2009, all operators of pleasure craft fitted with a motor and used for recreational purposes will be required to comply with the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations, which entails possession of an operator card.
To obtain an operator card, you need to pass an accredited test. Transport Canada doesn’t offer boating safety courses or testing, but its website does include information on accredited course providers in most areas. You are not required to take a course before writing the test, but it is recommended. The courses generally cover a range of basic boating information, including safety equipment requirements, explanations of the buoy system, reviews of all pertinent regulations and how to respond in an emergency situation.
Once obtained, the operator card is good for life.
For more information, visit Transport Canada’s website at www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety.

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