Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union, is the first financial institution in the country to temporarily offer zero per cent interest rates for people affected by COVID-19.

Individuals and businesses who bank with Vancity and are suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic can temporarily apply for credit card payment deferrals at zero per cent interest rate for up to six months.

See also: Canada’s big banks cutting credit card interest rates due to COVID-19

Card holders can call the credit union to request this program.

“Vancity has been working from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the financial needs of our members and help them through these uncertain and difficult times. As we’ve been doing that, we’re seeing the impact this situation is having, through no fault of their own, on people’s credit cards,” says Vancity President and CEO Tamara Vrooman in a statement.

“Having access to credit for things like online grocery buying is vital for many families. Whether it be credit cards or something else, I’d encourage any of our members who are facing financial concerns to contact us.”

Vancity is also working with people to defer loans, such as mortgages, for up to six months. For these loan deferrals, interest is accrued on the balance of the loan, and does not compound interest on interest during the deferral period.

Thus far, the credit union says they have approved 97% of the 4,000 loan deferral requests made due to hardships incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of March 18th, Vancity also waived fees for INTERAC e-Transfer and ATMs in an effort to reduce the number of people visiting banks in person. In an announcement on Wednesday, the credit union stated that they would continue to waive these fees until September 30th, 2020.

In addition, the credit union has set up a dedicated telephone banking line for small business members and for seniors aged 65 and older.

Vancity’s announcement comes after large banks like BMO, Bank of Nova Scotia, TD, Royal Bank, CIBC, and National Bank of Canada cut their credit card interest rates by half, reducing them to about 10.99%.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 1,489,457.

Over 87,200 people have died from the illness and 318,876 have made a full recovery.

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