If Canadian courts can say having internet access is a basic human right, than why not access to a bank account?
That’s the question being raised by Vancouver lawyer Christine Duhaime of the think-tank; the Digital Finance Institute.
Duhaime is calling for an end to what she calls “financial exclusiveness” that works against First Nations people and refugees in Canada …
“The banks across Canada are going to have to take on poor customers even if it affects their bottom line.”
Duhaime says many refugees are educated professionals, who lose their money and assets when flee.
66 million people in the world are refugees, and while many use the word “crisis” to describe the displacement of so many people around the world, others see it as a missed opportunity to create real incomes for them, and the communities they settle in.
Duhaime says refugees are educated, wealthy and entrepreneurial, yet too many are unable to open something as ordinary as a bank account.
She says banks simply don’t want poor customers …
“There’s almost nothing you can’t do these days without a bank account, you can’t even get a cellphone.”
“So if now a cell phone or internet access is now a basic right in Canada, you’re going to have to be able to pay for it and if you have to pay for it online we have to come to a point where our judges in Canada are willing to say that having a bank account is a basic right of all Canadians.”
Duhaime says a lack of an ID or a fixed address adds to many banks’ reluctance to take on refugees as customers.