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The second week of the House of Common’s 2014 session opened with spirited debate on whether Canadians are paying too much to withdraw money from ATMs across the country.

NDP consumer affairs critic Glenn Thibeault introduced a motion to the House that would have seen ATM withdrawal fees limited to 50 cents per transaction. While the motion was defeated, Susan Ewanick of Penticton-based Valley First believes the debate itself shows that banks and credit unions can do more to help Canadians with their tight household budgets.

Read: Politicians push back against ATM fees

“Times are changing and the days of sidling up to the service-fee trough are numbered,” says Ewanick, a 20-plus financial service industry veteran. “There are few things Canadians find more irritating than paying to access their own money. Paying $4, $10 or even $20 a month for a chequing account or paying fees for too many debit or ATM transactions a month just doesn’t work for Canadians today.”

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Canadians pay close to $185 in ATM fees every year. That number, Ewanick says, is unnecessarily high, especially when credit union members have access to more than 2,400 fee-free ATMs across the country.

“It surprises me that so many Canadians continue to put up with paying fees,” says Ewanick. “Over the past four to five years there’s been more mainstream banking choices for consumers who feel those dollars could be better spent.”

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Originally published on Advisor.ca

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