Healthy Financial Futures

Alterna Savings, a member-owned credit union, and its subsidiary Alterna Bank, exist first and foremost to provide financial products and services that meet the needs of our members, but we do much more than just that. Guided by the co-operative values of self-help and self-responsibility, Alterna aims to empower members through financial planning support, educational programming, a money management mentorship program, and an innovative community micro-loan program that offers support services for the smallest of small businesses.

We help support the financial health of our communities in many ways, including providing services to non-profit organizations, commercial enterprises, and small to medium-sized businesses. We make a difference through donations, sponsorships, and community fundraising. Alterna’s financial services expertise helps to create healthy financial futures for our members and the communities we serve.

Message to Members and Communities,

Alterna means different things to different people. For Alterna Savings members, it’s a cooperative financial institution that they control and own. For clients of Alterna Bank, the credit union’s subsidiary, it’s a small, local bank that upholds co-operative values. Alterna is an employer, a customer, a leader in community economic development, a mentor, a lender, a philanthropist, and more. This 2008/2009 Accountability Report is for all of the stakeholders we touch.

This report focuses on Alterna’s contributions and responsibilities in social, economic and environmental spheres, many of which are particular to our role as a community financial institution.

Alterna is committed to transparency. This report showcases the great things we do, where we’ve made progress since the last report, and it also highlights the things we need to work on. We are very proud to present Alterna’s second Accountability Report. Take a look and please send us your feedback.

Yours co-operatively,

John Lahey
President & CEO
Alterna Savings and Alterna Bank

James G. Frank
Alterna Savings

Richard J. Neville, FCA
Alterna Bank

About Alterna

Alterna Savings and Credit Union Limited is a member-owned, co-operative financial institution serving residents of Ontario. Our 22 branches can be found in Ottawa, Kingston, Pembroke, North Bay, and the Greater Toronto Area. Alterna Savings offers a full range of financial services including day-to-day banking, investing, lending, wealth management, and more. Members include individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, and co-operatives.

Alterna Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alterna Savings with two branch locations in Gatineau, Quebec. Operating with a commitment to the same co-operative values as its parent company, Alterna Bank has a federal bank charter, allowing it to serve clients outside Ontario’s borders.

Values and Commitments

To be the leader of co-operative financial services
Develop and share an exceptional level of financial expertise that is:
  • Tailored to member needs
  • Accessible to all
  • Supportive of local communities
  • Delivered by caring, professional employees
People First, Excellence, Integrity

Co-operative Identity

Alterna Savings is a member-owned co-operative and operates under the definition, values, and principles adopted by the International Co-operative Association.

Definition of a Co-operative

A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

Co-operative Values

Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.

Co-operative Principles

The seven Co-operative Principles are guidelines that help co-operatives put their values into practice.

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Member Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training, and Information
  6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
  7. Concern for Community

Corporate Social Responsibility Pillars

Community Economic Development
Financial Literacy
Environmental Sustainability

Accountability Reporting at Alterna

Corporate social responsibility is a popular phrase these days. But at Alterna, a commitment to bringing social and economic benefits to our communities is part of our cooperative DNA. It’s at the very foundation of our business and it’s what differentiates us from other financial institutions.

Alterna’s commitment to corporate social responsibility is not just found on paper. It’s built into our strategies and our operations. It guides our decision-making and is evident in everything we do. This report provides examples of how our commitment translates into tangible programs that help both Alterna and our communities build the foundation for a healthy financial future.

Accountability is a cornerstone of our corporate social responsibility. Alterna Savings’ members are also its owners, so they have an interest in how their company does business.

Alterna’s experience with accountability reporting has evolved over many years. In the early 1990s, Metro Credit Union (one of the predecessors to Alterna Savings) was one of the first Canadian financial institutions to conduct a ‘social audit’.

Measurement and Scope

The facts, figures, and information contained in this report are based on a set of indicators—defined activities that are measurable over time. The data reported for each indicator is found in the Performance Indicator tables. The number before each sub-heading is a reference to the indicator. The indicators in this report are nearly identical to those used in the 2006/2007 report to allow for comparability. Exceptions are the new environmental indicators. Explanations are provided where data is not comparable.

Canadian chartered banks with an asset base greater than $1 billion are required to publish a corporate responsibility report. Credit unions do not have such a requirement. Therefore neither Alterna Savings, nor its subsidiary Alterna Bank, are required by regulation to produce this type of report. We choose to do so as part of our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Alterna carries on that commitment to transparency and accountability by publishing third-party assured, public reports every two years that share our goals, accomplishments, and our plans for continuously improving our social responsibility and accountability practices in the future.

This Accountability Report is focused on six areas of social responsibility performance: governance, members, community, employees, financial sustainability, and environmental responsibility. These sections and the data presented within them are based on the indicators selected to measure Alterna’s corporate social responsibility. Many of our indicators align with internationally recognized reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI organizes corporate social responsibility activities in three categories, which we employ as category headings in the report: Social, Economic, and Environmental. The majority of Alterna’s initiatives fall under the Social category.

In an effort to minimize paper use, the 2008/2009 Accountability Report is only available online. However, Alterna has also published an Accountability Summary Report. This document is available both online and in print form. It is a reader-friendly, summary version of the Accountability Report that focuses on Alterna’s stories.

Alterna is more than just a financial services organization. We are a mentor, partner, and community builder. This report showcases some of the activities that make us who we are. We are proud to present the 2008/2009 Accountability Report. We look forward to hearing what you think.

Write to us.
Read the Accountability Summary.

This report encompasses the social, environmental and financial activities of Alterna Savings and its subsidiary Alterna Bank from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009. Any mention of “Alterna” refers to both Alterna Savings, the credit union, and Alterna Bank. The use of the term ‘member’ encompasses both members and clients of Alterna, unless otherwise indicated.