The least they can do

There was a modest amount of fanfare the other day when Canada’s big banks announced creation of a fund worth up to $1 billion over 10 years to help small- and medium-sized businesses get access to capital so they can expand and create jobs. It was in response to a rather gentle nudge from federal Finance minister Bill Morneau.

Now, a billion dollars seems like a lot of loonies until you put things into a perspective that the bankers might find a tad embarrassing. The so-called Big Five, CIBC, BMO, RBC, TD and ScotiaBank, recently announced their first quarter financials. All five recorded first quarter ‘profits’ of more than a billion dollars. Do the math and you can see that their little ‘fund’ is not much more than chump change, or walking around money.

We are blessed in this country to have some of the strongest most profitable banks in the world. They have about as much chance of failing as the Leafs have of winning the Stanley Cup. Toronto Dominion is now the largest, and they had to endure a bit of embarrassment recently when a story came out about how their tellers are now pushed to ‘upsell’ customers at the counter.

When the customer punches in their card number, the teller is immediately made aware of bank services that they don’t have, like a personal line of credit or a brand new TD VISA card. Some TD employees went anonymously to the media, saying they were under tremendous pressure to get customers to sign up for some of these services, even though it was fairly obvious that the customers did not need or could not afford such extras.

If they don’t succeed with some of these upsell efforts, it may well cost the tellers their job at some point. TD were the ones singled out here, but I’m willing to bet that all the banks operate in a similar fashion. By the way, most of those jobs at the bank are not much better than asking fast food customers if they want fries added to their order.

Stephen Leacock must be turning in the ground.

I’m Roger Currie

photo by Payton Chung

Roger Currie


Veteran radio journalist, now working primarily as a writer, commentator and freelance voice. My regular commentary "Currie's Corner" is heard on CJNU ( Nostalgia Radio ) at 93.7 FM. Text and audio can be found at I also do a daily newscast on CJNU, at about 7.15 & 8.15, every weekday morning. It's also posted on the CNC homepage.

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