Not one to let grass grow under my feet, I contacted the Ontario Human Rights Commission today. As suspected this is a federal issue, since the banks are federally regulated. I was referred to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) where I initiated an inquiry to determine if I have a complaint that can move forward. The CHRC intake clerk asked me for grounds of the potential complaint – in this case – marital status. In Canada the individual cannot be discriminated against due to marital status. After supplying the base information needed to open a file, I was advised by the CHRC that I would receive a call within the next two weeks to obtain the details of my discrimination. Based on that discussion the CHRC will advise me whether they are prepared to move forward or continue my complaint.
The challenge here is that banks as well as insurance companies have carved an impasse between themselves and the common law that applies broadly to society. Reinforcing this notion that banks are treated separate and apart from most of industry is the fact that, here in Canada, they have their own Ombudsman – The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI). On the OBSI website it states:
“OBSI resolves disputes between participating banking services and investment firms and their customers if they can’t solve them on their own. We are independent and impartial, and our services are free to consumers. You must first complain to the firm involved, but if you remain unsatisfied you have a right to bring your case to us. As an alternative to the legal system, we work informally and confidentially to find a fair outcome.” (https://www.obsi.ca/en/about-us)
It may simply turn out that the CHRC doesn’t have the teeth to tackle an industry as powerful as BMO. There are enough issues where the outcome might show more promise than taking on the banks, banks may be too well insulated for the CHRC to affect change. Speculation on my part because now I have to play a waiting game. No problem – just gives me more time to build my case.