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. 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.

Federally regulated credit unions[edit]

Legislation was adopted under the federal Bank Act in 2012 to allow for the creation of federal credit unions. On July 1, 2016, the Caisse populaire acadienne ltée (later rebranded as UNI Financial Cooperation), with its 155,000 members, became the first federal credit union in Canada.[3] Coast Capital Savings announced the approval from OSFI to become the second federally regulated credit union in Canada beginning on November 1st 2018, the first federal credit union based in British Columbia.[4]

Credit Union Founded Federally Expanded
UNI Financial Cooperation 1946 2016
Coast Capital Savings 1940 2018

Provincially regulated credit unions[edit]

As of September 30, 2014, there were 696 credit unions or caisses populaires operating in Canada.[5]

Outside Quebec[edit]

As of December 31, 2017 there were 286 independently operated credit unions and caisses populaires operating in the nine provinces outside of Quebec holding combined consolidated assets of $223.7 billion CAD.[6]

The largest of these 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, Connect First Credit Union and Affinity Credit Union.

272 of these credit unions and caisses populaires were affiliated through a provincial or regional credit union central to Canadian Credit Union Association, the national trade association. These credit unions operated 1,746 branches across the country with 5.3 million members and $216.3 billion in assets.[7]

Within Quebec[edit]

Within Quebec there are 344 caisses that are formally federated with the Caisses Populaires Desjardins as of September 30, 2014.[8]

In 2012, Desjardins served nearly 5.6 million members from 897 locations, with $196.7 billion in assets.[9]


Most credit unions in Canada are incorporated provincially and are insured by provincially established institutions.

  • Alberta – Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (Alberta)
  • British Columbia – Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (British Columbia)
  • Manitoba – Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba
  • New Brunswick Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Newfoundland and Labrador – Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Ontario – Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island – Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (Prince Edward Island)
  • Saskatchewan – Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (Saskatchewan)

Federally-incorporated credit unions are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation.[10]

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:[11]

  • 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 cheque imaging service
  • First mobile branch with ATM for servicing small communities[12]

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. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Credit Union Central of Canada. "System Results: National System Review, Third Quarter, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Credit Union Central of Canada. "System Results: National System Review, Third Quarter, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  9. ^ "2012 Desjardins Group Annual Report" (PDF). Desjardins Group. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Federal credit unions (FCUs)". Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation. Retrieved September 7, 2017. Once continued federally, FCUs become members of CDIC. As such, eligible deposits placed with an FCU enjoy CDIC deposit protection.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Innovation Credit Union wins marketing award". Battlefords News-Optimist. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2018.