Letter: Plea for a reprieve from yet another Northern CU branch closure

Manitoulin deserves better from Northern Credit Union

To Northern Credit Union Board and Management team,

It is with great sadness that once again I’m lobbying for a reprieve in closing yet another Northern Credit Union (NCU) branch on Manitoulin Island. To say that the recent announcement of the forthcoming closure of the Little Current branch was a shock would be an understatement, a dujan vu moment to be exact. In 2018 this same scenario played out when NCU suddenly announced the closure of the Mindemoya branch. 

In 2018 Manitoulin had a very strong delegate group that was left completely out in the cold regarding the Mindemoya branch closure decision, and its impact on our membership. Following several phone calls and emails I personally met with chairman of the board and the delegate steering committee to convey our displeasure with the 2018 decision and the method in which the decision was made. At the time, there was an acknowledgement from NCU that “mistakes” were made in how this was handled and “NCU could have done better,” after all NCU had very little experience in closing branches. You both promised us, the delegates and members, that this would be a “learning experience” and you would learn from these errors and not repeat them! Well here we are just a couple of short years later, with many of the same players making the same “mistakes!” I, for one, and I suspect the majority of your Manitoulin membership and previous delegates/ambassadors, feel betrayed once again by NCU. 

During merger talks we were given assurance that “NCU wasn’t in the business of closing branches.” Despite the bitter taste left in our mouth from the Mindemoya branch closure, we begrudgingly accepted and tolerated the closure of the Mindemoya branch. The planned closing of the last NCU remaining branch on Manitoulin, after just a few short years of establishing the NCU footprint here, smacks of nothing less than corporate raiding; taking the best that the former Espanola and District Credit Union had to offer and tossing the rest aside (its members).  When the Mindemoya branch was closed we were told that the membership numbers did not support keeping that branch open (under 1,000). Now we are being told that the Little Current branch numbers don’t support its staying open (under 1,500 members). How long before you tell us that the Espanola branch can’t stay open with their membership of about 1,500 members? While there may be a business case to be made for the closure of the Little Current NCU branch, the NCU boards should consider its ethical and moral, and some would argue legal obligations to the residents and shareholders of Manitoulin, a commitment made during merger talks. 

Manitoulin deserves and expects better from NCU, a credit union built on membership. Your form letter response to concerned members shows a total lack of respect for your membership, particularly here on Manitoulin where you made promises and commitments!

I ask you to please intervene in the planned closure of the Little Current NCU branch, please step up and do the necessary and right thing. If you truly care about the NCU brand, as you say you do, you won’t further tarnish it here on Manitoulin.

Steve Shaffer, 

former NCU delegate/ambassador

Mindemoya

P.S. You say “foot traffic is down in all of retail.” Do you think NCU is immune to this pandemic?