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Banking in Canada: How safe is my money?

We’ve been hearing a lot about American banks on the news. The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the near-deaths of Signature Bank and First Republic Bank. Luckily, experts say that banking in Canada is much safer, and our financial institutions are less likely to fail. Let’s look at why it’s safer.

How do banks fail?

The most common reason banks fail is the value of their assets falls below the market value of their liabilities. A bank’s liabilities are its obligations to creditors and depositors. 

SVB has been the biggest bank collapse in the U.S. since the global financial crisis. The large proportions of uninsured deposits made it vulnerable. So did the high amount invested in hold-to-maturity securities.

What protections are in place to prevent bank failure in Canada?

It is unlikely that a Canadian bank would go bankrupt. They are carefully controlled to guarantee they have enough funds and that their financial records are sound. In the event it ever did happen, Canada has set up protections:

The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)

  • The CDIC is a Government of Canada agency that insures deposits in many banks. The National Bank of Canada and the other chartered banks of Canada are members. Its operational funds come from premiums paid by those members. 
  • The agency will cover eligible deposits up to $100,000 in eight types of accounts.
  • Each member institution must guarantee the protection of their depositors’ funds up to a certain amount. 
  • People can divide their money between various account types, which gives them more coverage than the initial $100,000.

The Bank Act

The Bank Act is a law passed by Parliament to regulate Canada’s chartered banks. The act’s main goals are:

  1. Keeping depositor’s money safe
  2. Insuring cash reserve maintenance
  3. Boosting the financial system’s efficiency with competition

How are U.S. and Canadian protections different?

While Canadians have the CDIC, Americans have the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Despite their similarities, there are a few differences between the CDIC and FDIC.


The CDIC insures savings and chequing accounts, term deposits and GICs, and foreign currency deposits. The FDIC insures chequing and savings accounts, certificates of deposits, and money market deposit accounts.

Amount of Coverage

The CDIC offers $100,000 of coverage per category. Each depositor is eligible for up to $250,000 of coverage in each of the categories protected by the FDIC.

Member Institutions

The CDIC insures Canadian banks, while the FDIC insures American banks. 

Credit Unions

The FDIC does not protect deposits held at credit unions. The CDIC covers deposits at federal credit unions (FCUs). Provincial credit unions have to follow the laws of their province.

What to do if your bank fails?

The great thing about banking in Canada is if your bank fails, you don’t need to file a claim. The CDIC will automatically pay you.

Are there signs to watch for that a bank is failing?

Here are things to watch for if you are worried about your bank failing:

Bad Financial Outlook

A bank’s financial reports usually show signs of trouble for months before the public notices and regulators take action. Paying attention to your bank’s reports could help you protect your funds from any real problems. 

Indicators to Watch

Bank Solvency

A solvent bank has reasonable funds to cover depositors and creditors if necessary.


Expressed through the amount of cash and cash-like investments the bank has. It shows the bank’s ability to handle any major withdrawal demands. 

Postponed Financial Reporting

When a bank announces a delay in its upcoming financial reports, it has usually reached the end game. This often happens before regulators can intervene.

Branch Closures

Banking in Canada is shifting towards more online banking services and fewer physical locations. That being the case, it’s not unusual for banks to close branch locations. However, a sudden announcement of a major cutback in branches is not a sign of a systematic, long-term plan.

Cuts in Financial Services

Banks that are doing well offer incentives, like free chequing accounts, rewards programs, or special savings account rates. They could look like a welcome bonus to newcomers, a deposit bonus, or special savings plan offers. Cost reduction is more important than developing relationships in a troubled bank. 

What to look for when choosing a bank?

Looking to join a new bank? Thankfully, finding a CDIC-insured bank allows you more time to focus on things other than the safety of your money. 

Now that you have less to worry about, here are other things to look for:

  • The right terms and conditions for what you want
  • Wealth management tools you can use
  • Annual fees that fit your budget
  • Debit card benefits
  • Credit card benefits

What about investments and bank failures?

Many people invest through capital markets like the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Stocks, bonds, and similar Canadian securities are not usually in danger from things like bank runs or banking industry instability. 

Why? Because the assets you have in your investment accounts are not owned by the bank you use. They are held in trust for you. Should a bank holding your assets go bankrupt, the assets still belong to you. Their creditors have no entitlement to them.


Keeping your money in a CDIC-insured bank and not going over $100,000 in account value protects your money. The Canadian banking system is so well-regulated that bank failure is unlikely. 

The assurance of a CDIC-insured bank can free you to find the right account for your financial needs. Keep an eye out for things like better interest rates, lower monthly fees, or credit card offers.

If the state of your finances is keeping you up at night, we can help! Talk with one of our trained Credit Counsellors today.

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