CEO Newsletter – COVID-19 Concerns

Due to the growing concerns related to the spread of COVID-19, this newsletter will lay out the steps Talka is taking to support “social distancing” and other measures to assist containing the spread of the virus within the Talka community. Our uppermost concern is for the safety and health of our members and staff, while trying to maintain a balance of continuing to provide financial products and services.

Annual General Meeting

In light of the Government of Ontario’s declaration of a “State of Emergency”, the Board of Directors has decided to postpone the Annual General Meeting originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28th. A new date will be decided shortly in consultation with public health officials and our regulators, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA). The new date will be communicated via notice in the Hamilton Spectator, email, Talka website and in-branch as soon as possible.

Branch Hours & Other Preventive Measures

The Board and Management will continue to monitor the recommendations of the Hamilton Public Health authorities but for now, it’s business as usual. If the risk to exposure to COVID-19 increases, Talka may need to introduce other preventive measures such as rotating staff and allowing others to work from home, which would likely increase the member wait times in branch. In the worst-case scenario, Talka may need to close the branch entirely for a period of time.

To further protect staff and members, we strongly encourage members to review the options listed below to reduce/avoid any in-branch transactions.

  1. Debit Cards provide access to your funds 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Cash withdrawals can be made free of charge on an Exchange ATM Network which includes 170 credit unions and banks. Many members also enjoy the convenience of making in-store purchases using their debit cards at most major retailers Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals.
  2. Talka will be increasing the daily limits on Debit Cards for ATM & POS activity to further reduce members’ reliance on in-branch transactions.
  3. Members who have signed up for access to online banking from Talka’s website (https://www.talka.ca) can pay their bills on-line with just a couple of easy steps to set-up.  To sign-up for online banking with Talka, members can phone or email the branch to request an on-line banking application form to be sent via email. Talka will complete the setup once the signed form is returned.
  4. Installing Talka’s mobile app on your smartphone will give you the same on-line access plus the additional features of Interac eTransfer and Deposit Anywhere. Interac eTransfer is a convenient way of transferring money directly to your family and friends while Deposit Anywhere allows you to deposit cheques to your account by taking a picture using the app on your smartphone. Both these features are free to Talka members.
  5. Telephone banking is still available to pay bills after answering a few personal questions to confirm your identity.
  6. Member deposits may also be inserted into the drop box beside the front entrance door to the credit union and they will be processed the next business day.

Loans to Members

Talka is in the process of testing a new Loan Origination System (LOS) which would allow members to apply for loans by clicking a link on Talka’s website. Currently, there is a questionnaire that borrowers use to provide basic information to start the loan process. However, the new LOS will have pre-built links that will seamlessly update the banking system and other Talka service providers like TransUnion to drastically automate the approval process. Talka hopes to launch the new service in Q2 after all testing and training is complete.

Further, we are working hard to ensure that all our commitments will be completed on time while the Commercial Loans Department remains open and welcomes new opportunities.

Finally, members who have experienced a layoff and/or reduced hours from their employer and have difficulty making their next loan payment, should contact James Stephenson or Sylvia Johnston to discuss their options.