Madam Speaker, the government recognizes the importance of Canadians having access to a broad range of services at reasonable prices. The government does not generally regulate the prices that financial institutions charge for their services. We believe consumers are best served in an environment where financial institutions have to compete for business and where consumers have access to sufficient information to make educated choices.
For this reason our focus has been on promoting the clear and thorough disclosure of information relating to service and service charges on an ongoing basis. This helps reinforce the legislative requirements for financial institutions to disclose fee information when a deposit account is opened and when fees are changed.
Consumers can shop around for the account or products that best suit their needs. There are a number of competing financial service providers to choose from which include Canadian foreign banks, trust companies and co-operative credit associations. They offer a wide variety of account packages ranging from low cost no frills packages to specialty premium packages.
However, the government recognizes that on occasion consumers find it difficult to compare charges across institutions. As a result we are working with the banks and Industry Canada to simplify and improve dissemination of fee information. The government continues to monitor this issue to see if there are additional areas in which we can help consumers.
The task force on the future of Canadian financial services will also be examining the issue of interest to consumers of financial services and is scheduled to report back to government in the fall of 1998. At that time this government will instruct a parliamentary committee to consult with Canadians. Unlike the NDP, we will not allow banks to set government agenda. We are firmly in control of this agenda. ATM does not stand for approve the merger with respect to this government. It does stand for approve the merger when it comes to the NDP.
As the minister has said on numerous occasions, we will consult with Canadians at the appropriate time, and we certainly look forward to the interventions by the hon. member at that time.