Credit Unions: Did you know?

By Canadian Credit Union Association

Credit unions and caisses populaires are full service financial co-operatives who serve over 5.8 million Canadians. Like other financial institutions, they provide chequing and savings accounts, mortgages, business loans and investment advice, and are either federally or provincially regulated. Regulators have oversight over individual credit unions; and credit unions are required to meet standards and work with public agencies to ensure they are among the country’s soundest financial institutions. All provinces have deposit guarantee frameworks that provide credit union members with deposit protection equal to, or higher than, the big banks and in some provinces that coverage is unlimited. Credit union members also have access to over 4500 DING-FREE® ATMs across Canada through THE EXCHANGE® and ACCULINK® networks.

Unlike their bank counterparts, they are member-owned institutions that operate under the cooperative principles. All members have an equal say in how their credit union operates and can democratically vote for its board of directors. They operate under one simple and essential model: members first. The commitment to their members’ financial well-being helps Canadians hold onto more of their money by returning profits through profit sharing, low fees, donations, and other charitable initiatives. For sixteen years in a row, they’ve ranked first among all financial institutions for Customer Service Excellence in the Ipsos Financial Service Excellence Awards. In 2020 they’ve won a total of seven awards, including Branch Service Excellence and Values My Business.

As cooperatives, credit unions contribute to their communities’ economic, social, and environmental well-being. Each year, credit unions give back on average 5.4 per cent of pre-tax profits to local community organizations; well above the recognized industry standard of giving one per cent. In addition to investing in their communities, they also support small and medium sized businesses, and are responsible for 21.2 per cent* of lending to SMEs – a share as large as any of the big banks.

Credit unions are continuously helping to grow a strong Canadian economy by creating jobs, providing access to capital and contributing tax revenues. In 2018, Canadian credit unions contributed over $6.5 billion* directly and indirectly to Canada’s GDP.

Corporate social responsibility is another priority for credit unions, and they are doing their part to improve environmental performance by reducing their environmental footprints in the areas of paper and IT waste, as well as emissions from travel. Several credit unions offer eco-loan products to help members make socially conscious investments, while also benefiting the environment. CCUA has also recently inaugurated a Climate Change Disclosure Working Group to explore the emerging issue of climate-related financial disclosure.

For additional information on Canada’s credit unions, visit the Canadian Credit Unions Association’s website at If you wish to join a credit union, there is a credit union locator app available here.

(*Figures provided by the 2019 Community and Economic Impact Report)