Two Yukon communities are still without access to banking offices after the territory transitioned the community banking contract from TD to CIBC last month.
As part of the transition, TD ended their service in Mayo, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks in early October.
Since then, CIBC has been dealing with staffing issues in the three communities which have delayed replacement services, according to the government.
“Banking services are still available in Yukon communities and CIBC continues to work with customers to address any challenges they may encounter,” said government spokesperson Matthew Cameron.
CIBC operates full-service banking branches in Dawson City, Watson Lake and Whitehorse. Beaver Creek, Burwash Landing, Carmacks, Faro, Haines Junction, Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Ross River, Teslin and Old Crow rely on rural community banking centres, which can be used by people who do not have a CIBC bank account.
Residents in the communities generally have access to an agent and withdrawals for six to 18 hours per week.
Despite the move towards online banking, community agents were still available in order to deposit cheques, withdraw cash and help residents navigate the online system to check account balances, pay bills online and deposit cheques with e-deposit.
“The change towards electronic banking has caused some concern for community members. We have been in contact with banking agents and customers to address these concerns,” Cameron said.
According to the government, CIBC is working to maintain the same hours of service.
“We anticipate that this issue will be resolved in the coming weeks and we are in daily contact with CIBC as they work through this transition for benefit of all community members,” Cameron said.
On Oct. 26, Mayo Mayor Scott Bolton said it had been an inconvenience to the community, but he had been told a replacement solution was being worked on.
“The bank has been closed for quite a while now. I’m not sure if the bank understands or the CIBC understands that there are quite a few people in the community that rely on that service,” he said.
“There’s quite a few people that don’t use bank cards at all in our community. So when the service is gone, people notice it. A lot of members of the community do telephone banking and internet banking, but there is a significant portion that don’t do that stuff at all,” he said.
Bolton said some of those people are seniors, while other rural residents may not always have access to computers or internet.
On Nov. 2, Cameron confirmed the bank had found a permanent solution for the community of Mayo. He said CIBC is still looking for short and long-term staffing solutions in Pelly Crossing and Carmacks.
TD was the Yukon government’s banking service provider from 2008 to 2020. CIBC officially took over starting Sept. 28.
In the legislature MLA Geraldine Van Bibber questioned the government’s handling of the transition and said the Association of Yukon Communities should have been involved.
“Yukoners are wondering why they are now being forced to do all their banking online. They’re wondering why they’re no longer able to pay bills at the bank, such as power and phone bills,” Van Bibber said.
Premier Sandy Silver responded by saying that the procurement process for a new contract was the same as previous years.
“We do admit that there are a couple of communities right now where there are some problems to be worked out. But we are pleased with the competitive bid process that got us to this place, and we are willing to continue to make banking services in the communities better than they were in the past,” he said.
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