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April 17: UPDATE

A message from Paulo Araujo | President

Dear member,

As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold, I’ve been receiving many questions from members like you asking, “Is my money secure?” and, “How can I access financial relief programs?” and, “What’s going to happen to my retirement savings?” These are challenging times, and I want you to know that your credit union remains here for you as the weeks and months progress. Let me share with you some updates on how we’ll continue providing support.

Financial strength and stability to weather the storms

Your money is safe with us. First West Credit Union, of which Valley First is part, is one of Canada’s largest credit unions, offering financial strength and stability in a time when it matters. Our just-released 2019 annual report highlights the way your board of directors and senior management has prudently stewarded your credit union, ensuring that we’re well-prepared to serve you through uncertain times like these. What’s more, you should know that the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation provides a 100% guarantee on your deposits with us, including account deposits, term deposits, GICs or other foreign currency deposits*.

Loan and mortgage relief for members facing financial difficulty

Long before there was COVID-19, we offered financial relief to members in need through our Back on Track program. Back on Track provides customized options like payment reductions or deferrals for members who find themselves unable to meet the terms of their loans or mortgages with us. In the past month, we’ve helped hundreds of our members currently experiencing sudden financial challenges due to COVID-19. If you need help, I encourage you to learn more about the Back on Track eligibility criteria and apply online.

Support for credit card cardholders

While the federal government hasn’t mandated relief for credit card issuers, we’re offering relief options to our credit card cardholders impacted financially by COVID-19. These relief options include a reduced interest rate of 10.9% for up to six months, temporary increases in tap limits, minimum payment deferrals options, online travel insurance claims, expedited over limit transaction approvals and access to permanent credit limit increases. Contact Collabria Mastercard® credit card cardholder support directly at 1-855-341-4643 to find out more.

Faster access to Canada Emergency Response Benefits

In case you missed the email we sent earlier this week, I wanted to let you know we’ve launched a simple way for you to receive your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) benefits, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) through direct deposit right from your online banking portal or mobile app. Just select “Set up CRA Direct Deposit" from the Account Services tab once you’ve logged in.

Wisely managing your retirement savings and investments through market volatility

With the ongoing volatility in the markets, I’ve had many conversations with our wealth advisors – who are some of the best in the business. They’ve reiterated that despite current challenges, this market downturn will be temporary. The financial markets have reacted similarly to previous outbreaks like SARS in 2003-2004 and H1N1 in 2009, and prices bounced back after each of those events. While the COVID-19 pandemic is obviously unique, we can still be informed by what the past tells us: the markets will rebound in time. I believe there's great value in taking the long view and trying to be patient. I encourage you to talk to your wealth advisor and review your financial plan as you consider your long-term goals.

Help when you need it

For the last five weeks, our teams have been encouraging members to use our remote banking services as much as possible – which isn’t always easy if you’re new to online or mobile banking. To help you, we’ve created a bank of video tutorials covering topics such as setting up online banking, conducting an Interac e-Transfer® online or depositing a cheque using our mobile app. You can find these videos in our learning portal for online banking and for mobile banking.

I’m excited to share that we’ve just enabled remote e-signature on many of our retail and commercial lending products to make it easier for you to do business with us without having to come into the branch.

In addition, we’re constantly updating the COVID-19 Resource Centre on our website with all the latest essential information you need about financial relief programs, resources for business owners, branch hours, frequently asked questions and much more.

You can talk to a financial advisor every day of the week at our Member Advice Centre by calling 1-888-597-8083, and also conduct many transactions via ATM. Remember, you can use any ATM on THE EXCHANGE® ATM network free of charge.

We’re extremely grateful for the tireless efforts of our employees who are helping serve you, our members, during these challenging times. My request to you remains the same: please avoid visiting your branch in-person unless absolutely necessary. As a local, community-focused credit union, we’re in this together as your neighbours and friends, and we’ll continue serving you through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Stay safe and well, 

Paulo Araujo | President

*The Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, a statutory corporation, fully guarantees all BC credit union deposits. Credit Union equity shares and investments such as mutual funds or RSP equity plans are not covered by deposit insurance.