Know your rights when facing financial difficulties

Under Canadian laws and regulations, financial consumers benefit from many protections. They help ensure you have access to basic banking services, such as a bank account, and that you’re treated fairly by financial institutions. Banks are also expected to help their clients achieve good financial outcomes.  

Paying your mortgage

Did you know that banks are expected to help consumers who are struggling to pay their mortgages? If you’re experiencing financial difficulties due to exceptional circumstances, such as the combined effect of high household debt, increased cost of living and rapid increases in interest rates, contact your bank as soon as possible to learn about relief measures that may be available. These could include:

  • converting your mortgage from a variable to a fixed interest rate
  • making a special payment arrangement
  • skipping a payment
  • applying for a mortgage deferral that allows you to delay your mortgage payments for a defined period of time

Electronic alerts

To help you manage your money and debt, banks are required to send electronic alerts to their clients when the balance of their bank account or the available credit on their credit card falls below a certain amount. These alerts may help you manage your day-to-day finances and avoid costly fees. You don’t have to sign up, but you may opt-out at any time by informing your bank in writing. Also, banks will automatically set the electronic alerts to $100 but you can ask to change the amount.

Making a complaint

If you have a problem with your bank, you have the right to make a complaint. You can do so by using its complaint-handling process. Banks must deal with your complaint within 56 calendar days after they receive it.

You can also contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada if you can’t find your financial institution’s complaint handling process or if you experience delays when using it.

Learn more about how to manage your debt and how to get help at