How Credit Unions Have Helped Canadians During the Pandemic

Published Date: Mar 25, 2021

A little over a year has passed since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the drastic changes that came as a result. Along with all the uncertainties and challenges brought on by the virus, Canada’s credit unions continued to stand by their members and communities and offered relief measures however possible.

Below are just a few examples of how credit unions from coast-to-coast supported their membership and communities throughout the crisis by donating to local initiatives, offering additional services to those most vulnerable and much more.

Ladysmith & District Credit Union

Ladysmith & District Credit Union created a new product to help offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They immediately made available up to $1,000,000 in Emergency Relief Term Loans to their members. These short‐ term emergency relief loans have no interest, and the repayment of these loans can be deferred up to 6 months.

Interior Savings Credit Union

In response to COVID-19, Interior Savings Credit Union launched a $100,000 Community Relief Fund to help non-profit organizations with extraordinary costs they were incurring as they adjusted their operations to continue serving the community through the pandemic. Interior Savings’ members then helped top-up the fund with an additional $50,000 by investing in a Community Impact Term Deposit.

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Vancity mobilized various efforts to support members and their communities through the pandemic. They partnered with the Vancouver Foundation, United Way Lower Mainland, and the City of Vancouver to create the Community Response Fund (CRF) – a fund that rapidly deployed over $17M in essential relief to organizations providing frontline services who were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. They provided $2M in support to the CRF, as well as $100K to the Victoria Foundation’s Rapid Relief Fund. Vancity also invested in supporting local businesses by co-founding Support Local BC – an online platform to generate cash flow and support for businesses across the province.

Libro Credit Union

Libro Credit Union, Pillar Nonprofit Network and TechAlliance partnered to launch Recovery & Rebuilding the Region Design Challenges, to accelerate and scale solutions with a financial investment and a suite of personalized business advisory, financial coaching and community impact services. The first challenge focused on responding to the immediate health and social issues of COVID-19 and the second one focused on revitalizing and rebuilding our communities. In addition to this, Libro pivoted its annual community grant program in a matter of days to provide $320K in emergency relief funding to support marginalized individuals hardest hit by pandemic.

Your Neighbourhood Credit Union

YNCU launched, a virtual shopping district bringing local retailers and community members together for a safe shopping experience. Shoppers who visit the virtual shopping district can swipe through 1000 local Ontario digital storefronts where they have the option to shop products or services online or simply leave a tip to show support. YNCU also launched the YNCU Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Campaign, which asked its members to nominate a healthcare hero they thought was going above and beyond to assist and support individuals during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit union received 76 unique nominations and all nominees received gift cards to local merchants.

East Coast Credit Union

East Coast Credit Union launched the Helping Hand Loan during the COVID-19 crisis. This was a pre-approved loan offer for $5000, offered at a low rate, with no payments or interest for 3 months followed by low monthly installments.

Connect First Credit Union

In partnership with the Calgary Foundation, Connect First Credit Union leveraged an existing grant program to provide support for COVID-19. The previously established “Stepping Stones” grant program, offers yearly small grants up to $600 that Calgarians can use for any community building project or event. In response to the pandemic, Connect First contributed an additional $25,000 to the Stepping Stones program. Connect First also increased the maximum eligible amount from $600 to $1,000 and opened the grants to all communities around Alberta that Connect First operates for projects related to COVID response.    

PenFinancial Credit Union

Amid the COVID-19 Crisis, PenFinancial donated $20,000 in emergency funds to local organizations to support critical food shortages across Niagara, while continuing to honour their Truly Local Commitment of giving 10% of pre-tax profits back to the local community.

Conexus Credit Union

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Conexus Credit Union launched the Conexus Kindness Capital Fund (CKC Fund). The $200,000 CKC Fund recognized 40 individuals and businesses with $5,000 to continue their acts of kindness by calling on people across Saskatchewan to nominate those in their community who responded to the pandemic in extraordinary ways. The credit union received over 207 nominations from 37 communities across Saskatchewan. The project provided funds to the following areas of need: elder care, food security, shelter, mental health and health and care supplies.

Synergy Credit Union

Synergy Credit Union regularly provides financial assistance for capital projects in its region through the Synergy Shares program. As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, the program pivoted to shift their focus on the current crises. Through the program, Synergy donated $29,500 to support non-profit groups and food banks in 11 local communities, by providing gift cards to local grocery stores. Synergy also donated $27,500 to assist the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation (LRHF) and Kindersley & District Health & Wellness Foundation with funds earmarked towards PPE for front-line staff. Synergy also contributed $100,000 to more than 30 schools across west-central Saskatchewan. The donation was to assist with some of the unexpected expenses and adjustments associated with COVID-19 while helping to focus on students’ physical and mental wellbeing.

OMISTA Credit Union

In 2019, OMISTA partnered with a local K-8 school to support children who living in poverty. The credit union filled stockings for 60 students as part of the holiday program organized by the school. The contents of the stocking included: a water bottle personalized w/vinyl lettering with child’s first name, hat & mittens, slippers or knit socks, a book, toothbrush, treats and more. The initiative was a success and OMISTA renewed the program again in 2020.

Read more in our 2020-2021 Community & Economic Impact Report available here.