Our Work

Bank Switch

Young people are a key client base for Canada’s Big 5 Banks. Banks know that the decisions we make about where to bank as young people can last a lifetime. We're moving our money out of dirty banks until they divest and respect Indigenous rights.
Photo of protesters attempting to bring a large white elephant inflatable into an RBC branch. Two people hold the door open while two people carry the inflatable. A banner is draped over the elephant that reads "Big banks are funding climate change."

As young people, we have the power to stop the big banks’ fossil fuel financing. Acting together, we can create reputational risk for the banks by demonstrating that young people are rejecting the banks’ archaic investments in fossil fuels. Signing the pledge is an important step, but it’s just the beginning. Together, we will continue to build and apply pressure on the banks to divest from their dirty investments.

Another relationship with banking is possible. Moving away from the banks is also an opportunity to move our money into our local economies through credit unions and support a more just transition to end the climate crisis.

When it comes to your personal banking, the big 5 are not your only option! When managing your money, you actually have two options: commercial banks and credit unions. In practice, when it comes to your personal banking, there is very little difference between a commercial bank and a credit union. 


How it works:

  1. Sign the pledge to not to bank with corporate climate criminals.
  2. Contact your branch manager to let them know you have signed, and that you intend to close your account if the bank does not make meaningful climate commitments. If you do not yet have your own bank account, contact local bank branch managers and let them know that you intend to open your first account with an alternative institution whenever you are able.
  3. Open your new account with an alternative institution (see resources below). Remember to transfer regular payments over to your new account.
  4. Close your account at a big five bank.

Alternatives to the Big 5 Banks

Commercial banks, like the Big 5, are for-profit institutions owned by their shareholders. This means that they operate with the intention of turning a profit for those shareholders and are often traded on the stock market. As with most for-profit corporations, the more shares someone owns, the greater influence they have over the decisions that are made by the bank.

Credit Unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, designed to serve their members. They are member owned. This means that any depositor is a member and gets an equal vote in board member elections regardless of the amount of their deposit.

Both credit unions and commercial banks are safe, government-backed options offering savings and checking accounts, credit and debit cards, mutual funds, loans, investments and financial planning guidance.

What are some of the benefits of banking with a credit union?

Member owned: As stated above, credit unions are member owned, and every depositor is given an equal vote. Therefore, unlike with commercial banks, your influence on the decisions being made are not dependent on how much money you can afford to invest. Credit unions offer deeper democracy in their practices, as they practice one-member-one-vote, instead of the one-share-one-vote system of commercialized banks.

Higher interest rates: In general banking with a credit union will yield higher interest rates on deposits, and will have lower interest rates on loans. This is because the financial cooperative’s interest is in maximizing benefits for members, rather than turning a profit for shareholders.

Transparency: Unlike the big 5, credit unions are more than willing to offer transparency. If you inquire about another credit union NOT included on the list below, please contact us! We want to hear about your experience! We will continue to provide an updated list of the least heavily fossil fueled credit unions available.

What options are available to me?

The following list is compiled from Climate Pledge Collective (CPC), B Lab, Bank.Green and our own research. All listed financial institutions offer federal or provincial deposit insurance on chequing and savings accounts.

Alterna Bank

An online bank owned by Alterna Savings. Confirmed with CPC that they do not have any commercial loans to the fossil fuel industry. A note that it has not been confirmed whether future loans will follow similar policies.


An online bank owned by Meridian Credit Union. They are currently developing a fossil fuel financing exclusion policy.

Laurentian Bank

Although Laurentian only has branches in Quebec, you can open an account online anywhere in Canada, if you have reached the age of majority. A copy of their fossil fuel exclusion policy can be found here. Laurentian is exploring possibilities for selling to another bank, so there are no guarantees that the policy will stay in effect.

Vancity Community Investment Bank (Business Banking Only)

VCIB is a subsidiary of Vancity Credit Union that provides financing and investment products to non-profits, social enterprises and purpose-driven businesses in all provinces expect Quebec. They work solely with partners working on social, economic and environmental change, and like their parent group, do not provide services to the fossil fuel industry.

Alterna Bank Motusbank Laurentian Bank
Chequing account fees Free Free $4 to $14.75/month; >18 or a student: free option; 60+: discounted
Savings account interest 2.25% 2.50% 3.00%
e-Transfer fee Free Free $1 (free on Unlimited account)
Credit cards No No Yes
Business banking Yes No Yes
Branch network None None Quebec
Online banking and mobile app Yes Yes Yes, but no mobile cheque deposit
ATM network The Exchange
Deposit insurance CDIC

Alterna Savings

Confirmed with CPC that they do not have any commercial loans to the fossil fuel industry. A note that it has not been confirmed whether future loans will follow similar policies.

DUCA Financial

Ensured CPC in writing that they don’t have any loans funding fossil fuel expansion. However, a note that they couldn’t guarantee they didn’t have small business loans for oil and gas services companies.


A small Credit Union in the West-GTA area focused on ethical investing.


A credit union with 90 branches across Ontario. They are currently developing a fossil fuel financing exclusion policy.


Has very strong environmental policies and no loans to fossil fuel companies. They are very vocal about climate issues and their mutual funds are fossil-free.

Coast Capital

Based out of BC, Coast Capital is a federal credit union and operates in all provinces and territories except Quebec. They have confirmed they are not involved in the production or trade of fossil fuel or oil based utilities, ozone depleting substances, GMOs and other environmentally and socially unjust projects.

BlueShore Financial

Has confirmed they do not participate in any lending in relation to fossil fuel production, transportation or distribution. BlueShore Financial business lending is concentrated in the areas of local small business, developers, warehouse and some hospitality/tourism.

Laurentian Bank

Committed in December 2021 to no longer provide financing for fossil fuel exploration, development and production. A copy of their fossil fuel exclusion policy can be found here.

Personal banking branches are limited to Quebec, but business banking is provided nationally. See the National tab for their digital bank, LBC Digital.


A small credit union in Moncton focused on ethical investing.

Assiiboine Credit Union

Assiniboine Credit Union is a small credit union in Winnipeg focused on ethical investing.

Innovation Credit Union

Has 1.3% of its commercial loans in the fossil fuel and mining sectors, which is lower than other financial institutions in SK.

We have highlighted here the credit unions that do not currently invest in fossil fuels, but there are other options beyond these. Proportionally any credit union’s fossil fuel investments will be significantly smaller than the big 5 (they aren’t all perfect, but they’re better).

Note: Sometimes Tangerine and Simplii are suggested as banking alternatives. However, Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank and Simplii is owned by CIBC. These are not alternatives to the big bad 5. National Bank, Canadian Western Bank and ATB Financial also provide significant financing for fossil fuel expansion projects.

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