Immigrants paying 120% interest on loans get relief

| Business, Community |

A Saskatchewan community is helping newly arrived immigrants clear
off some high interest loans associated with moving to Canada.

In the last year and a half a group of immigrants from Ukraine
settled in the North Battleford area, west of Saskatoon, with many
borrowing money to finance the journey.

According to the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress some were paying
interest rates of 10 or 12 per cent, per month, to lenders in their
home country. On an annualized basis that works out to an interest rate
of 120 per cent to nearly 150 per cent, leaving some immigrants
struggling to meet payments.

When the area’s Ukrainian-Canadian community learned about the
situation they approached a local credit union, which agreed to provide
new loans at a lower rate of interest.

John Jangula, spokesman for Innovation Credit Union, said he did not view the new loans as high risk.

"I guess I’m looking beyond just the normal credit score and looking at the situation," Jangula said.

One of the people benefiting from the lower-interest loan program is
Nick Ivanchenko, who has been working as a welder in Battleford for 15

"I want to buy house, nice car, and get married," he said.

Now his $7,000 loan — which had an interest rate of 12 per cent per
month — has been paid off. Ivanchenko has a new credit union loan with
payments that are more manageable and is also building a positive
credit rating.