Skyline of the financial district

Canada’s two banking complaints agencies say there were a record number of inquiries and cases opened last year.

The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) says banking inquiries were up 56% and the number of banking cases it opened was up 33%, while the ADR Chambers Banking Ombuds Office reports that the number of complaints it received was up 45% while it opened 21% more cases.

Total inquiries covering both banking and investment issues at the OBSI came in at 10,650, which translated into 1,151 cases including 686 banking cases, while at ADR there were a total of 4,722 inquiries of which 886 were formally opened as complaints.

OBSI chief executive Sarah Bradley says in a news release that the increase comes as part of a rising trend of complaints seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as customers face increased financial stress and rates of financial fraud.

She says changes last year to financial consumer protections laws have also led to more complaints being brought to and addressed through the system.

The federal government committed in last year’s budget to creating a single banking ombuds after pressure from numerous groups, but for now the OBSI handles complaints on CIBC and BMO along with numerous investment firms, while the ADR covers RBC, TD, Scotiabank and National Bank.