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The National Credit Union Awards highlight fresh and effective programs that emphasize local economic initiatives, innovative solutions that improve the effectiveness of the credit union, and the ambitions of tomorrow’s young leaders.

2010 National Credit Union Innovation Award

FirstOntario Credit Union / Hamilton, ON

Facing plant closures and sky-rocketing unemployment in their community, FirstOntario Credit Union reacted by launching the Community Assistance Program (CAP) in March, 2009. An initiative of all staff members and branch employees, CAP exemplifies the fact that FirstOntario believes in treating its members with kindness and respect. This innovative program consists of a consultative approach to delivering customized financial services, non-financial resources and support networks for members who have been laid-off or are unemployed.


This “all-in-one” solution includes:


1.     a Financial Services package – waiving fees for a period of time, reducing loan/mortgage rates, payment skipping and preferential investment offering;

2.     Budget management;

3.     Connection to local resources – job searching, retraining opportunities, career counseling and business start-up advice;

4.     FirstOntario seminars – writing resumes, interviewing skills; and

5.     A network of social assistance through

Since inception, 152 FirstOntario members have taken advantage of CAP. These members have over $270,000 in their chequing accounts, have consolidated and refinanced over $736,000 in loans and consolidate or refinanced a total $4.37 million in mortgages. In addition, CAP has allowed the credit union to build brand awareness in the communities served, garnering television and radio coverage.


CAP differentiates FirstOntario Credit Union from its competitors by providing members with a practical solution that brings together financial relief and social assistance. This innovative focus is being used to build a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.