Law Commission of Ontario Launches Public Consultation on Cheque-Cashing Fees



    TORONTO, March 26 /CNW/ - The Law Commission of Ontario today issued its
first Consultation Paper. It is seeking public input on whether the charging
of fees for cashing government cheques concerns Ontarians, and if so, on the
most effective approaches for addressing concerns.
    The Consultation Paper summarizes key issues and options for reform, and
is intended as a focal point for discussion and consultation. Written
submissions will be accepted until Friday, June 13, 2008. Based on the Law
Commission's independent research, including responses to the Consultation
Paper, the Law Commission will issue a Final Report with findings and
recommendations.
    A number of Canadian jurisdictions have taken steps to ensure that
consumers are able to receive government payments without paying high fees.
Manitoba and British Columbia have recently developed legislation that enables
them to set maximum rates for such fees. Other jurisdictions have moved
towards direct deposit programs for government payments, or have developed
indemnity programs with the banks that ensure government cheques can be cashed
without fees.
    In Ontario, cheque-cashing businesses cash third-party cheques
immediately, as long as adequate personal identification is provided. The
businesses usually charge a flat fee plus a percentage of the face value of
the cheque. For example, the charge for cashing a $500 cheque may range
between $15 and $20.
    Concerns have been raised that high fees for cashing government cheques
are having a significant impact on low-income Canadians, said Dr. Patricia
Hughes, Executive Director of the Law Commission. "Government payments often
are aimed at some of the most vulnerable populations in Ontario, individuals
who can least afford to pay high fees in order to access their benefits."
    Dr. Hughes said public consultation is a vital element of the Law
Commission's work and the Commission hopes to hear from a large number of
Ontarians on the subject of cheque-cashing fees. "The Law Commission wants to
ensure that its work is accessible and responsive to all Ontario communities,"
she added.
    Launched last September, the Law Commission operates independently of
government to recommend law reforms to enhance access to justice.

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For further information:

For further information: Lauren Bates, Staff Lawyer, Law Commission of
Ontario, (416) 650-8406, chequecashingfees@lco-cdo.org

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Law Commission of Ontario - LCO

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