A New Westminster couple looking to invest their RRSPs at a Surrey Credit Union say they were shocked to learn they weren’t able to do so unless they checked a box to affirm they believed in the Sikh faith. They say they were even more surprised to learn that this practice is completely legal.
Under BC Law, credit unions are allowed to cater exclusively to communities that share a single bond, like religion.
“We just couldn’t believe it”
Eric Wilson and Emily Peszynska say when they applied for RRSPs at Khalsa Credit Union, they were given a form to fill out which included a box to be checked off to affirm the applicant believed in the Sikh faith.
Wilson says initially they were told they didn’t have to fill out that portion of the form. However, they got a phone call the next day, and learned the bank wouldn’t process their investment until the box was checked.
“We went back to the branch to get our money back but that really wasn’t why they wanted us to come back. They wanted to convince us to keep the money, and to sign the form and everything would be ok.”
Eric says as practicing Catholics they didn’t feel comfortable checking off the “religious portion” of the form.
“We respect the religion, but we don’t believe in it. We couldn’t in good conscience…I wouldn’t just check it off.”
Peszynska says laws need to change to prevent credit unions from discriminating against prospective investors.
“It’s a business! If you open a business here it should be for the public. Most of us are immigrants from other countries but we cannot force what we have in other countries to be here.”
Khasla Credit Union speaks out
Dalbir Singh Mehta, the CEO of Khalsa Credit Union says he understands why Wilson and Peszynska may have been confused but says their policy will not be changing.
“We can’t open accounts without this declaration being signed…Khalsa Credit Union was incorporated…with a common bond. The bond language says ‘All members of Khalsa Credit Union will be members of the Sikh faith.’”