Vancity’s investment and support for immigrants and refugees

As a values-based financial cooperative, Vancity credit union is committed to promoting social justice and financial inclusion for its members and those who reside in the communities it serves.

Supporting the needs of the financially underserved, including immigrants and refugees is an important area of focus for the credit union. Vancity invests in these initiatives to promote financial literacy, encourage member well-being and to build healthy, sustainable communities—all contributing to a more resilient local economy.

Vancity’s investment in social justice and financial inclusion for immigrants and refugees

  • Dec. 1, 2015, the credit union launched its Vancity Ready to Rent Loan offering members an interest-free personal loan up to $50,000 to help them undertake home upgrades for readying a suite or room to house a Refugee.
  • Vancity’s Community Partner Refugee Travel Loan program provides interest-free loans to assist government-assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees in paying back their federal government travel loans, to help them and their families start their new life in Canada and begin establishing their credit history in Canada. Note: While the federal government has waived travel loans for the 25,000 Syrian refugees arriving in Canada, all other refugees arriving in Canada must repay the loans, with interest.
  • The Vancity Humanitarian Fund, established in September 2015, has been very successful in raising money in response to the refugee crisis and to provide ongoing support for this and other humanitarian funds. Since its inception, the fund has distributed more than $216,000 to support the Syrian refugee crisis as part of a matching donation program. Vancity has added another $100,000 to the Vancity Humanitarian Fund, to make sure the fund had a permanent base of support.
  • Vancity uses a portion of the operating revenue from Jumpstart® savings accounts to offer a unique community impact program that supports a range of settlement agencies for newcomers to Canada. These agencies include MOSAIC, DIVERSEcity, Victoria Intercultural Association and Abbotsford Community Services.
  • Vancity offers small-dollar loans to help newcomers to Canada get back to work or to buy tools for a trade. This not only helps a newcomer become economically self-reliant, but also the steady repayment of small personal loans is a great first step to building the all-important credit bureau in Canada. Vancity is proud to lend to newcomers without a credit history, working with them to look forward to a bright future.
  • Many of Vancity’s Each One, Teach One workshops are run in partnership with community organizations that work with newcomers, refugees or individuals who face barriers to financial services. Workshops are delivered in English with key concepts translated into other languages such as Farsi, Dari, Punjabi, Hindi, Kiswahili and many others.

Vancity’s partnership with Immigrant Services Society of BC

  • In May 2015, Vancity partnered with Immigrant Services Society of BC to deliver a Skills Connect for Immigrants workshop on career options and the foreign credentials recognition process for accounting professionals.
  • In 2013, Vancity provided a $1 million capital grant and a $200,000 pre-development loan to the Immigrant Services Society of BC towards their new Welcome House Centre for refugees. The 58,000-sq-foot Welcome House located at 2610 Victoria Drive in Vancouver, will have 200 beds of first-stage and second-stage housing, a childcare centre, a youth centre, a medical clinic, education services, trauma support, government offices and a Vancity banking kiosk at which refugees will be able to open bank accounts, in some cases for the first time.
  • Since the 1990s, Vancity has opened bank accounts for more than 5,000 government-assisted refugees who transition through the Immigrant Services Society of BC during their first two weeks in Canada.
  • Vancity will also provide culturally sensitive financial literacy workshops through its Each One, Teach One financial literacy program. Through this program, Vancity employees are trained to deliver basic modules of financial literacy from basic banking and budgeting to how compound interest works or how to avoid fraud. The workshops have been delivered to thousands of community members in community gathering places such as libraries, neighbourhood houses and places of worship.

Vancity’s partnerships with other refugee and immigrant service organizations

  • Vancity is working with a number of agencies that help settle refugees who come in through private sponsorship and need access to bank accounts, as well as small loans to pay for their work permit and other fees collected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
  • Vancity is working with the Settlement Orientation Services, Inland Refugee Society of BC and the VAST (Vancouver Association of the Survivors of Torture) to develop a client intake system to manage the refugee claimants they support.