(Toronto) Canada’s two banking complaints agencies say they opened a record number of investigations and cases last year.
The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) reported that banking inquiries increased by 56% and the number of problem banking cases opened increased by 33%. For its part, ADR Chambers Office of the Ombudsman for Banking Services reported that its number of complaints received increased by 45%, while the number of cases opened increased by 21% year-on-year.
The total number of inquiries covering both banking and investment matters at OBSI amounted to 10,650 resulting in 1151 cases, including 686 banking cases, while at ADR, there were a total of 4722 requests, of which 886 were officially opened as complaints.
OBSI’s ombudsman and CEO, Sarah Bradley, said in a press release that the increase is part of an upward trend in complaints seen throughout the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19, as customers faced increased financial stress and rising rates of financial fraud.
She added that regulatory changes last year to the consumer protection framework in the Bank Act had also led to more complaints being filed and handled through the system.
The federal government committed in last year’s budget to creating a single banking ombudsman after pressure from many groups, but for now OBSI handles complaints against CIBC and Montreal, as well as many investment firms, while ADR covers Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank, Scotiabank and National Bank.