Credit unions in Canada

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Credit unions are called caisses populaires in French-speaking communities of Canada. This one is located in Shediac, New Brunswick

Canada has the highest per-capita membership in credit unions in North America. More than a third of the population is a member of at least one credit union.[1] Credit union membership is largest in Quebec, where they are known as caisses populaires (people's banks) and in western Canada.[2]


Responsibility for the incorporation and regulation of credit unions resides primarily at the provincial and territorial level in Canada. Credit union legislation exists in every province of Canada but does not currently exist in the three northern territories. While legislation was adopted under the federal Bank Act in 2012 to allow for the creation of federal credit unions, no credit union currently operates under this legislation.

Credit unions and caisses populaires operate in every province of Canada. In Quebec, caisses populaires are required to be formally federated with the Caisses Populaires Desjardins.

Provincially regulated credit unions[edit]

As of September 30, 2014, there were 696 credit unions or caisses populaires operating in Canada.[3]

Outside Quebec[edit]

As of September 30, 2014 there were 352 independently operated credit unions and caisses populaires operating in the nine provinces outside of Quebec.

The largest of thse include Vancity, Coast Capital Savings, Servus Credit Union, Meridian Credit Union, First West Credit Union, Conexus Credit Union, Steinbach Credit Union, Assiniboine Credit Union, Cambrian Credit Union and Affinity Credit Union.

315 of these credit unions and caisses populaires were affiliated through a provincial or regional credit union central to Credit Union Central of Canada, the national trade association. These credit unions operated 1,746 branches across the country with 5.3 million members and $168.4 billion in assets.[4]

Within Quebec[edit]

Within Quebec there are 344 caisses that are formally federated with the Caisses Populaires Desjardins as of September 30, 2014.[5]

In 2012, Desjardins served nearly 5.6 million members from 897 locations, with $196.7 billion in assets.[6]

Credit union firsts in Canada[edit]

Credit unions have a history of innovation in Canadian financial services. Here are some of the products and services that credit unions were first to market:[7]

  • First financial institutions to lend to women in their own names (in the 1960s)
  • First to offer daily interest savings
  • First full-service ABMs
  • First fully functional online banking
  • First loans based on borrower character
  • First payroll deduction service for deposits and loan payments
  • First open mortgages
  • First home equity lines of credit
  • First debit card service.
  • First registered education plans.
  • First branchless bank (Citizens Bank)
  • First cheque imaging service

See also[edit]


  1. ^ World Council of Credit Unions[specify]
  2. ^ Desjardins: a model for the rest of Canada? (Quebec's Desjardins caisses populaires). Canadian Banker. 1 Jan. 1999.
  3. ^ Credit Union Central of Canada. "System Results: National System Review, Third Quarter, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Credit Union Central of Canada. "System Results: National System Review, Third Quarter, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Credit Union Central of Canada. "System Results: National System Review, Third Quarter, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "2012 Desjardins Group Annual Report" (PDF). Desjardins Group. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  7. ^