Canada Expected to Broaden Banking Powers

OTTAWA -- The Canadian House of Commons is expected to approve four bills this month that would substantially change the powers of federally regulated banks, trust and loan companies, insurance companies, and credit unions.

The proposed changes would break down historical ownership barriers, letting banks own trust companies and insurers. Insurance and trust companies could also own each other. Trust companies, historically similar to thrifts in the United States, would gain the same lending powers as banks.

A government official said the parliamentary majority is discussing with opposition political parties the possibility of grouping the four bills and debating them together in the House of Commons beginning next week. If approved as expected, the four measures would take effect at the same time.

An opposition official predicted that the bills would be dealt with expeditiously because all parties agree the reforms are needed and overdue.

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