Sask. mom wants payday loan reform after son borrowed tens of thousands of dollars to fund addiction
Regina mother warns against payday loans after watching her son rack up thousands of dollars in debt to support cocaine and crystal meth addiction.
Ronni Nordal has spent the past five years hiding money and valuables from her son, Andrew, who regularly stole her to get the money he needed. But it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that she realized he had another source of money.
“He was telling me that he wanted to be [sober], but he said ‘I’m going to these silver stores and they’re going to give me money, and I’m going to use some,’ “she recalls.
Saskatchewan people can borrow up to 50 percent of their paycheck from payday lenders. These lenders can charge a borrowing rate of up to $ 23 for every $ 100 you borrow, which works out to an annual interest rate of 600%.
Ronni was shocked to find that her son was borrowing about half of his paycheck from several payday lenders in Regina as often as every two weeks.
No Help From Payday Loan Stores
After Andrew expressed fear that he would not be able to quit using drugs while he had access to payday loans, Ronni, a lawyer, offered to write a letter on his behalf stating that “I am a drug addict, and if I’m coming here to borrow money, it’s because I want to use it and if you give me money, you let me use it. “
In the end, of course, he wanted to get high, or he was high, and he walked in and they loaned him money over and over.– Ronni Nordal
She hoped the letter would convince payday lenders to stop lending to her son, but soon realized there was nothing she could do.
“I made a few phone calls to a few stores, and although the staff were very lovely and friendly, they all sort of said ‘Do you have guardianship over him?’ And I said, ‘No, he’s an adult, he can make his own decisions,’ so they said, ‘If he comes here, we can’t refuse him.’
“So of course he ended up wanting to get high, or he was high, and he walked in and they loaned him money over and over again.”
“I have the impression that they are taking advantage of it”
Andrew has been sober since attending a residential treatment center in British Columbia in December 2016.
“I feel like they’re taking advantage of people with substance abuse who know how easy it is to get that money from them because when you’re a drug addict you don’t think two weeks of the advance, ”he said.
“I would go to four or five different stores with my [$1,100] paycheck, borrowing five hundred dollars from everyone, without caring, without thinking about the future.
“At the time of the paycheck, I owed a few thousand dollars, so I would continue to borrow. I would pay off one, but then re-borrow this one to pay off another, and keep going.”
Ronni estimates that Andrew borrowed over $ 20,000 from payday lenders in the years leading up to treatment, much of which she had to settle during her first months in British Columbia.
Ronni and Andrew believe he is ultimately responsible for his actions, but she would like the government to ban payday loans or introduce regulations that make borrowing from more than one lender impossible.
Short-term lending industry reacts
As the Saskatchewan government changes payday loan fees in the province – lowering the borrowing rate to $ 17 for every $ 100 you borrow on or after February 15, which means a rate of annual interest of approximately 450% – the President and CEO of the Canadian Consumer Finance Association (CCFA), formerly the Canadian Payday Loans Association, says the freedom to borrow from multiple lenders is important.
CCFA represents the majority of regulated Canadian providers of short-term, low-value credit, including payday loans, installment loans, term loans, lines of credit, and check cashing services. CCFA member companies operate a total of 961 licensed stores and online businesses across the country.
“When people come into our member establishments, most of the time it is to solve a particular problem they have,” said CEO Tony Irwin.
“Since there are regulations, for example in Saskatchewan, you can only borrow up to 50% of your take-home pay, it is possible that going to one lender will not give you the money you have. need to solve your problem.
Irwin said he was sympathetic to Andrew’s story, but it’s not a story he hears frequently.
“Customers come from all kinds of backgrounds,” he explained, saying more often than not it’s “the single mom who needs a little help until payroll, or the retiree. who needs to repair his oven “.
Irwin said the industry is doing what it can to make sure customers are well informed about the rules and regulations regarding the loans they borrow.
He acknowledged that there was room for improvement, but maintains that the borrower is responsible for understanding the terms of the lender and making sure they can repay any loan.