CEO Newsletter – June 2020

COVID-19 Update June 2020

Talka’s Board and Management continue to monitor the public health announcements and guidance as we travel through these unprecedented times.  The Ontario government recently announced a regional approach to Stage 2 re-opening but most GTA municipalities including Hamilton are not yet deemed safe enough to reopen further. There are reports they may be allowed to begin the process once the provincial-wide emergency orders are lifted on June 19th.

The number of confirmed cases in Hamilton as of June 9th now stands at 738 but trends have indicated a declining number of new cases proving everyone’s efforts to flatten the curve have been successful. I refer you to the following website  www.hamilton.ca/coronavirus as an excellent resource for providing information on how best to protect yourself and others, locations of the three COVID-19 testing centres in Hamilton and guidance for employers in protecting the workplace.

As our number one focus has always been the safety and health of our members and staff, we greatly appreciate the cooperation of our members that have adopted new technology such as debit cards and internet banking since we closed the doors to the public on March 28th (see Electronic Transaction Volumes below). Talka’s Board and Management also express our sincere gratitude to staff for their efforts and contributions in supporting members with all their banking needs.

As noted above, much discussion recently has focused on safely “re-opening” businesses, and Talka Credit Union is no different. As such, the focus of this newsletter will be on describing how Talka intends to operate when we can safely open the doors while still following the physical distancing and other precautions for everyone’s safety and benefit.

Branch Changes

Talka will be introducing several changes in the way we provide service to members as follows;

  1. The first change members will see is that the flow of traffic through the branch will be made safer by designating the back door to the parking lot as the Entrance door and the front door off Main Street as the Exit This change will ensure members are practicing physical distancing to both enter and exit the branch.
  2. Before entering the branch, a sign will be posted to ensure no “at risk” members enter as a safety precaution for other members and staff. We can continue to provide service to these members through telephone support and/or the drop box off Main Street for cheques and other documents.
  3. All members should wear a mask when out in the public and staff would greatly appreciate it if those members’ who have a mask wear one in the branch.
  4. Talka will limit the number of members in the branch to only two at a time. Members waiting to enter the branch should follow the physical distancing markers on the staircase and outside the branch.
  5. Once the Entrance door has been opened, members will be asked to use a touchless hand sanitizer located on the wall across from the door before proceeding to the furthest open teller station. There are four teller stations but only two will be open at any time.
  6. New plexiglass barriers have been installed at each teller station. Members should stand back to the physical distancing markers after exchanging any documents at the teller station.
  7. After the transaction is completed, members should follow the direction arrows and leave the branch using the Exit door off Main Street.
  8. Talka’s re-opening hours of operation will be slightly modified to designate the first hour from 9 to 10 am for seniors.

 

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday are 9 am to 5 pm

Wednesday hours are 9 am to 1 pm

Closed on Saturday and Sunday

 

We are targeting to re-open the branch on Monday, June 29th but please check our website to confirm we are on target with this date and for final confirmation of our hours of operation.

Annual General Meeting Update

Talka has received regulatory approval to delay the 2020 annual membership meeting no later than July 31, 2020. Ideally, this will leave enough time for mass gathering restrictions to be relaxed enough to accommodate a membership meeting with the minimum quorum of 20 members. Given the current guidance to limit the spread of the virus, the Board has decided that this meeting will be a “business only” meeting and that Talka 65th Anniversary celebrations will have to be delayed until it is safe to do so.

Look for the AGM notice in the Hamilton Spectator, on Talka’s website www.Talka.ca or via email for those who have provided their email address after signing up for the Talka Newsletter at the bottom of the Home Page of our website.

Bursary Award Recipients

With Talka’s annual membership meeting still on hold, the Board of Directors’ are pleased to announce the following bursary award recipients. Of the 10 applications received, in addition to those named below, 5 applicants will receive a $200 award and there was 1 application that was disqualified for not meeting the requirements. Congratulations go to the following;

$2,000 Bursary Award     Laura Zhukas

$1,000 Bursary Award     John Blyskis &  Meridian Moore

$500 Bursary Award        Piotr Kasek

Canada Emergency Benefit Account (CEBA)

In response to the negative impact the coronavirus is expected to have on Canada’s economy, the Federal Government announced the CEBA program to provide interest-free financing for small businesses. Talka is pleased to announce that we have qualified with Finance Canada and the Export Development Corporation to offer these loans to our small business members that used Talka as their primary financial institution on March 1st, 2020. Interest-free financing is available to a maximum of $40,000 for small businesses with a CRA Business Number and an annual payroll between $25,000 and $1,500,000. The financing is to be used for non-deferrable operating expenses and not to pay down existing debt, management bonuses or shareholder dividends. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).

Please contact James Stephenson, VP Credit & Compliance via email at jstephenson@talka.ca to discuss your eligibility for the CEBA program.

Electronic Transaction Volumes

Recognizing that during these times, it is always safer to stay at home, the credit union continues to encourage members to sign up for a debit card and/or internet banking. These methods or delivery channels give members the flexibility, convenience, and secure access to their funds as I had previously outlined as follows;

  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 retailers Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals.
  2. Talka has increased 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 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 Talka’s mobile app on your smartphone. Both these features are free to Talka members.

To attest to our members cooperation in adopting these new methods of banking, please see the table below comparing the number of debit card and internet transactions in April 2020 to April 2019.

Month ATM POS Internet Mobile
April 2020 297 2,679 2,226 243
April 2019 614* 4,149* 1,654 189

 

* The decline in POS & ATM transactions in 2020 reflects the closure of malls and non-essential businesses with members doing more on-line shopping using credit card or PayPal through Amazon and other retailer websites that provide delivery or curbside pickup.