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March 26: UPDATE


Latest update on our ongoing response to COVID-19

Dear member,

I want to take a moment to update you on some of the most recent changes we’re making to support your health and financial wellbeing at Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union. You’ll find details on the following below:

  • Branch hours and location availability
  • Increased telephone support at our Member Advice Centre
  • Help in times of financial hardship
  • Protecting yourself from fraud online
  • Providing additional support to our local foodbanks

Changes to our branch availability

As we continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, following the direction of the government and health authorities in doing everything we can to prevent transmission, we’ve made the decision to establish reduced schedules across our entire branch network and implement temporary closures at certain locations. These changes went into effect Monday, March 23, and we’ll keep assessing the situation as we go forward. We’ll also be implementing unique working arrangements for even more employees.

Continuing to serve your financial needs through many channels

Now more than ever, I encourage you to use our online and mobile banking services, available to you 24/7. Our ATMs are also available 24/7, and you can use any ATM on THE EXCHANGE® ATM network free of charge. Remember, with our Simply Free Account® you can send unlimited Interac® e-Transfers free of charge, just like always – it’s a great way to exchange funds in a time of physical and social distancing.

Additionally, you can call our Member Advice Centre at 1-888-597-8083 for assistance with your banking needs. With reduced branch hours and even some temporary branch closures, we’re increasing staffing levels in our Member Advice Centre by reassigning advisors from some of our locations. The Member Advice Centre is available by phone from Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I’m pleased to share that we’ve now added hours to serve you on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. We do appreciate your ongoing patience with higher-than-normal call volumes.

My request to you remains the same: please avoid visiting your branch in-person unless absolutely necessary. Using the alternative channels I’ve outlined above, we can ensure most of your banking needs are met from the comfort of your own home. If you have transactions that you absolutely must conduct in-person, I strongly advise that you check our branch locator for the most up to date listing of our branch hours to ensure availability and avoid disappointment.

If you do not have a member card (i.e. a Valley First debit card), I urge you to get one at a branch now. If you have forgotten the PIN for your debit card, I urge you to have it reset at a branch now. Doing these things will enable you to take advantage of more remote banking options, which will be critical should government advisories on social and physical distancing endure or broaden to include self-isolation for a prolonged period.

New financial relief measures to support you

If you’re finding yourself unexpectedly in a difficult place financially because of COVID-19, First West is here to help. We’re committed to working with you on your unique financial situation to help you still meet your family’s financial needs. We’re also here to help you navigate the government’s relief programs. You’ll find the latest information on our COVID-19 member resource page.

Be especially vigilant in protecting yourself from fraud

At times of crisis, people and communities often band together to help and support each other in unprecedented ways. Unfortunately, it’s also during these periods of instability when fraudsters double down on their efforts to take advantage of people, finding creative ways to profit from fear and uncertainty. Don’t fall prey to their tricks. Never click on links from sources you’re unsure about or give out any personal information over the phone to someone who calls you. Remember, Valley First will never call you and ask you for your personal information. The only time we will ask to verify your identity is when you call us.

If you call our Member Advice Centre, also please be prepared to answer a series of in-depth questions as part of our enhanced member verification process. This process is for your protection, so please be patient with us. Here are some additional proactive steps you can take to keep your financial information secure.

We’re your neighbours and friends

We’re extremely grateful for the tireless efforts of our employees who are helping serve you, our members, during these challenging times. As a local, community-focused credit union, we’re in this together as your neighbours and friends. We’re deeply committed to the communities we serve and that’s why we’re doubling our efforts to support local food banks. People’s reliance on the food banks is only increasing in the face of COVID-19. Together with my colleagues in First West Credit Union’s other regions, we’ll be distributing $60,000 to area foodbanks in the next two weeks. This is something you can take immense pride in, as a member of this credit union. I also encourage you to donate to local food banks through Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley, if you can – every dollar is the equivalent of three meals to a family in need. Donate today.

Finally, thank you for your understanding and support as we, along with the rest of the country and the world, navigate these unchartered waters. Rest assured that as the situation evolves, every decision we make will be fueled by our deep care for our members, our employees and our communities.


Paulo Araujo | President, Valley First