The year no one saw coming.

January 2020. The start of a new decade and a new year, a time people traditionally think about what they’d like to achieve in the year ahead. It was the perfect moment to ask members: “What’s your 2020 vision?” Was it to save more and retire early? Go back to school. Start an RESP for the kids...

As we excitedly rolled out our 2020 RRSP campaign and looked forward to helping members achieve their financial goals, little did we know all our lives were about to change.

The first reported case of the novel coronavirus in Canada made the news on January 25. Three days later, there was a confirmed case in BC. As the numbers climbed and concern over this mysterious virus mounted, we all wondered what would happen next.

Fast forward to March. The COVID-19 global pandemic was upon us. Canadians abroad were advised to hurry home. A public health emergency was declared in our province and restrictions were issued to ensure the health and safety of all British Columbians. Schools and businesses closed, playgrounds emptied, travel across the border ceased.

Essential services, including financial institutions such as ours, were required to stay open. To do that in the safest way possible, Kootenay Savings launched our Pandemic Response Plan.

“Let me reassure you there is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of our members, employees and communities. Our goal is to serve you safely and responsibly.”

- Brent Tremblay, President and CEO, Kootenay Savings
March 21, 2020

Health and safety first.

Our Pandemic Response Team quickly put into place several measures to help reduce the spread of the virus:

  • COVID-19 screening at all branches
  • Increased sanitization at all locations and ATMs
  • Reduced business hours
  • Exclusive seniors-only hours
  • Providing complimentary masks
  • Increased awareness of digital banking options
  • Social distancing with decals six feet apart

Staying safe while
keeping connected.

To reduce exposure, we encouraged members to do as much of their banking as possible through our many self-serve channels. Those who weren’t familiar with these easy options were given step-by-step assistance and soon became converts.

From March to December, in-branch transactions fell 16%. While traffic in our locations slowed down, we did not. Many frontline employees were seconded to our Member Service Centre. Financial service advisors conducted all appointments by phone while other branch employees and managers proactively reached out to members.

Working from home.

For so many of us around the world, WFH became a reality overnight. Here at Kootenay Savings, all employees who were able to work from home were set up to do so. Our Technology Solutions Team swiftly assessed inventories of laptops and other equipment to ensure people had what they needed to work effectively. Tools such as video conferencing and new communication systems were implemented so teams could connect and collaborate frequently and efficiently.

Financial relief for members.

Sadly, COVID-19 caused financial hardship for many of our members. We worked tirelessly with them to provide timely and flexible solutions such as:

  • Payment suspensions and alterations up to six months
  • Quick Loans – Personal loans up to $10,000 with deferred payments up to six months
  • Quick LOCs – Business Lines of Credit up to $25,000 with interest-only payments
  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans through the Government of Canada

Hindsight is 2020.

While we didn’t see it coming, no year has shown us more clearly that we’re all in this together – locally, nationally and globally. From villages in Kazakhstan to communities in the Kootenays, people united to support one another and become even better together, the way credit unions have always done. And as we look towards the future, we see an even stronger and more focused Kootenay Savings. Let us help you bring your financial vision to life.