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Canadian immigrants getting fleeced by money transfer services: ACORN

Canadian residents who use commercial money transfer services to send funds to family members back home are paying unreasonably high fees, says a non-profit that represents low-income families.

According to ACORN Canada spokesperson Pascal Apuwa, fees levied on international money transfers can be as high as 20 to 25 per cent.

"We are demanding that these agencies reduce their charges and we are asking the government to regulate them," says Apuwa.

According to a spokesperson for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, there are currently no federal regulations on money transfer fees.

Remittance payments, the term used to describe money that foreign workers send back to their countries of origin, are not only vitally important for the individuals who receive them, says Apuwa, but also constitute a significant flow of funds to developing countries around the world.

According to a 2010 World Bank report, official remittance flows reached $440 billion globally over the course of that year. For most developing countries, the sum of these individual transfer payments dwarfs official aid contributions.

"This is much more sustainable than just asking for aid from the outside," says Apuwa. "I come from Kenya. This is money that should be going to help people."

Kenya is currently experiencing emergency drought conditions with famine in Somalia and scattered food shortages across the Horn of Africa.

ACORN Canada is organizing a rally outside a Burnaby Money Mart location at noon today.

Ben Christopher is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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