Merger Would Create Uniquely Manitoban Credit Union

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The future is not the status quo for Manitoba Credit Unions, say the Boards of Directors and leaders of Assiniboine Credit Union, Caisse Financial Group, and Westoba Credit Union. Today, they recommend their members and employees vote “Yes and Oui” this June to a merger that could take effect January 1, 2025.

“To continue meeting the needs and wants of our members, we should merge now. If we wait, mergers will continue to happen all around us. With the landscape changing so quickly and dramatically, we believe it’s imperative to merge now as strong partners,” says Crystal Laborero, Board Chair of Assiniboine Credit Union.

Some of the key pressures on financial institutions like credit unions include significant investments necessary for digital banking advancements, growing regulatory requirements, increased competitive pressures from outside the market, and the need to spend more on increasingly complex cybersecurity measures to protect members. All require investments that are hard to sustain for one credit union on its own.

“A merger of Assiniboine Credit Union, Caisse Financial Group, and Westoba Credit Union would create a uniquely Manitoban financial co-operative. It will be the first time a credit union will have such a wide geographic reach throughout Manitoba, offer French language services, and serve both urban and rural members through a values-based approach to banking,” Laborero adds.

In communications to the combined financial co-operatives’ 970 employees and 216,000 members, the three partners shared that in the last five months they have been completing their due diligence. They are now confident the merger is in the best interests of their members, employees, the communities they serve, and the greater credit union system. In doing so, they will create a credit union that reflects Manitoba’s diverse communities.

Caisse’s Board Chair Réal Déquier says that in the last few months it has become clear that their future partners value each other’s strengths and uniqueness, including the role the Francophone community plays in the vibrant tapestry of Manitoba.

“This merger is a unique opportunity to serve both English and French-speaking communities across Manitoba like never before. Our partners recognize the deep connection our Francophone community and French language services will have in shaping our new corporate identity. That is recognized in the bylaws and the governance model we have developed together for how we will operate going forward,” says Déquier.

Both Caisse Financial Group and Westoba Credit Union have decades of experience working in and for rural and agriculture communities while Assiniboine Credit Union has decades of experience serving urban and northern communities. Together, the three organizations will have the widest distribution of branches of any financial co-operative in Manitoba and $10 billion in assets to leverage for all its members’ financial needs.

“This merger would give us the capacity and scale to create a unique credit union that has a larger network of employees who are excited to make a difference in the rural and urban communities we serve as active volunteers. It will create more diverse career opportunities for our employees, who are our greatest strength. We are doing what we always do best, working cooperatively for what’s best for our members, employees, and communities. It’s who we are,” says Garnet McBurney, Board Chair of Westoba Credit Union.

If approved by members in a June vote, the merged organization would be the only purpose-driven financial co-operative in the province to carry a French and English name. Assiniboine Credit Union / Caisse Assiniboine allows either the English version or the French version to be used in serving the broad base of urban, rural, and agricultural communities in Manitoba.

Following a thorough selection process, all three boards have unanimously recommended current Assiniboine President & CEO Kevin Sitka as President & CEO of the new organization. Caisse CEO Joël Rondeau and Westoba President & CEO Jim Rediger will continue in leadership roles to support the post-merger entity.