Tuesday, June 15, 2021

UCU Mortgage Primer for First Time Home Buyers

You’ve heard it before – buying a home is the single largest, long-term purchase you will likely make in your lifetime. So if you are thinking about buying a home - it is important to learn as much as you can about the mortgage process before you start your home buying journey. Knowing what to do and what to avoid - will better position you to get the best mortgage tailored to your specific financial situation.

Here are some tips to help you get the best mortgage package for your new home:

Know Your Credit Score

Your credit score will determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. A bad credit score may signal you are less likely to qualify for a mortgage while a high score may unlock better interest rates for your mortgage.

There are two main credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax and Transunion. Contact one to request your credit report.

Get Pre-Approved

Apply for a mortgage pre-approval first - before you start your home search. With a mortgage pre-approval in hand, you will know to the top end of your price range – which will allow you to make an informed home purchase that will fit within your budget.

UCU mortgage pre-approval is quick and easy – just call your local UCU Branch and speak to a mortgage specialist who will provide you with expert advice.

Aim for a 20% Down Payment

A down payment is the amount of money you pay upfront when you buy a home – it is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price. Your mortgage will be based on the remaining amount of the purchase price.

You could put down as little as 5% of the purchase price and as much as you could afford on the high end. But keep in mind that a down payment of less than 20% means you will have to buy a high ratio mortgage insurance premium which will increase your monthly payments.

Don’t Forget Closing Costs

On average you will need up to 2.5% of your home purchase price to cover closing costs. This includes the cost of land transfer taxes, PST, home inspection fees, legal fees, appraisal fees, property tax, property insurance, fire insurance, utility hook-ups and possible mortgage insurance.

The closing costs are in addition to the home purchase price – so put aside some money to cover the fees.

Interest Rate Options

You have two choices when it comes to how interest rates are calculated on your mortgage: fixed-rate or variable rate.

A fixed-rate mortgage – the interest rate of the mortgage will remain the same until the mortgage comes up for renewal - even if the interest rates change during your mortgage term.

A variable mortgage - the interest rate of the mortgage will fluctuate throughout the term. The prime interest rate is determined by the Bank of Canada and the variable mortgage rate is set by each financial institution’s prime rate.

Mortgage Payment Schedules

You chose a payment plan that suits your financial needs which could include setting up automatic payments from your account. UCU offers several payment plan options from paying once a month, twice a month, every two weeks, or even once a week. You have the flexibility to choose a rapid pay-down option to pay off your mortgage sooner.

Mortgage Pay Back Period

The typical amortization period for a mortgage is 25 years – but you can choose a shorter amortization or a longer one of up to 30 years.

Longer mortgage re-payment plans mean smaller monthly payments but you will end up paying more interest during the length of your mortgage. Shorter mortgage re-payment plans mean larger monthly payments but you will end up paying less interest during the length of your mortgage.

Mortgage Terms

A mortgage term is a period in which you are locked into a selected mortgage rate. Mortgage terms vary from a 6-month term up to a 5-year term. Once the term expires you will have to renegotiate the terms of your mortgage – you can keep your current term or select a different mortgage term option.

 Mortgage Types

There are two mortgage types to choose from: open mortgage or closed mortgage.

Open Mortgage – Allows you to increase your mortgage payments – by either paying more in each installment or by making a lump sum payment. You can pay off your mortgage sooner without penalty but your interest rate will be higher.

Closed Mortgage – Offers lower interest rates and you are limited by how much extra you can pay towards your mortgage each year.

UCU Mortgage Specialists

Our UCU mortgage specialists provide customized solutions and advice – to serve you and all our Members with the highest quality mortgage service available including mortgage pre-approval.

More information about mortgages and mortgage rates can be found on the UCU website.

Home Office – the New Must-Have Renovation

Over a year ago the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of our economy changing the way we work and learn. Many families had to juggle working from home with remote learning for their children - creating a need for a separate home office space that can provide a quiet place to work and a professional backdrop for Zoom calls.

Work from Home is Here to Stay

Many indicators point to the work from home trend to continue beyond the pandemic – becoming a viable work choice option.  

A recent survey by Statistics Canada found that a third of Canadians were working from home during the pandemic - up dramatically from 4% in 2016.

Stats Can also project that 60% of Canadians with university degrees will have jobs with the technological capabilities to work from home – making a home office a necessity.

Home Office Adds Value to Your Home

Having a well-designed, purpose-built home office is important to provide a flexible work option for you or a remote learning space for your child. And it could also add value to your home.

As more people opt to work from home it’s no surprise that a home office is quickly becoming an important feature for many of today’s home buyers.

Finance Any Home Improvement Project with a UCU Home Renovation Loan 

Looking to add a home office, remodel your kitchen or update your bathroom? Do you need to replace a refrigerator or repair a leaky roof? Before you reach for your credit card to pay for your home improvement project, consider a UCU Home Renovation Loan instead.

Use a UCU Home Renovation Loan to finance any home improvement purchases you would make using your credit card.

  • Apply for a UCU Renovation Loan to help:
  • Apply for a UCU Renovation Loan to help:
  • Build a home office
  • Renovate your kitchen
  • Update your bathroom
  • Refresh your house with a new coat of paint
  • Repair your roof
  • Replace your dishwasher, refrigerator, or stove
  • Replace your windows
  • Repave your driveway
  • Any other home improvement project

UCU Home Renovation Loan Advantages

There are many advantages to financing your home improvement projects with a UCU Home Renovation Loan, including:

Lower Interest Rates

UCU Home Renovation Loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards. If you plan to carry a credit card balance to pay for your purchase, then you will pay less in interest if you opt for a UCU Home Renovation Loan instead.

That could mean a lower overall cost to your home improvement project.

Pre-Approved Loans up to $30,000

UCU has made applying for a Home Renovation Loan quick and easy with no upfront application fees.

Just visit your local UCU Branch and provide some basic financial information, including proof of employment.  A UCU Loan Specialist will then conduct a credit check to determine your credit score. A better credit score means lower interest payments on your UCU Home Renovation Loan.

With pre-approved loans up to $30,000, you can borrow a lot more money for your home improvement project than you could with a credit card.

Fixed Monthly Payments

UCU Home Renovation Loans come with affordable monthly payment options that will suit your budget.

You will have up to five years to repay your loan, with your choice of weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly payment schedules.

You can even set up an automated payment plan from your UCU Chequing Account for a more convenient repayment solution.

Improved Credit Score

Running up your credit card with expensive purchases could hurt your credit rating. If you repeatedly use up your available credit on a single credit card, that could lower your credit score. You could be viewed by creditors as not using your credit responsibly.

Taking out a UCU Home Renovation Loan for your home improvement project could free up your available credit on your credit card and preserve, or even improve your credit score.

Personal Loan Insurance Premium Protection

You can purchase personal loan protection insurance for your UCU Home Renovation Loan. Life, disability and critical illness insurance can help protect you from an unforeseen event, by paying the outstanding balance of your loan in the event of illness or death, or by making your regular loan payments in the event of a disability. Conditions apply and the cost of the premiums will be added to your loan repayment schedule.

More information about UCU Home Renovation Loans can be found on the UCU website.

Visit your local UCU Branch to apply.

eTransfer Limit Increase


You asked and we listened - You can now send more money safely and securely using UCU Interac eTransfer.

Put away your chequebook - UCU has made it easy for you to send, receive and request money online and on your mobile app.

You can now send up to:

·         $10,000 per transaction

·         $300,000 per 7 day period

·         $900,000 per 30 day period

More information and a full list of eTransfer limits can be found on the UCU website.

New to eTransfer

Learn how you can send an eTranfer to anyone, anytime by watching the UCU tutorial.

Debit Card tap limit increase for UCU Members


What you need to know

Starting June 3rd, your debit card contactless/tap limit will increase to $250 for merchant purchases - up from the previous $100.

What you need to do                                     

·         Perform 3 consecutive Point of Sale (POS) transactions by entering your PIN on the terminal keypad

·         After the third consecutive transaction, your UCU Debit Card will be updated and you can tap for purchase up to $250

More information can be found on the UCU website

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

UCU Scholarship Recipients


UCU supports students in our community by continuing to invest in their education. During this year’s AGM, UCU awarded 6 scholarships to post-secondary students who have been Members of UCU for at least 2 years.

The Scholarship Committee, headed by Board Director Taras Hetmanczuk along with Board Director William Roman, reviewed many applications from accomplished candidates and based their decisions on 4 different criteria - academic performance, leadership and community involvement, commitment to volunteerism and fit to the scholarship criteria.

UCU congratulates the following scholarship recipients:

Wasyl Sytnyk Memorial Scholarship - awarded to students showing community involvement and studying in the fields of business, finance, banking and wealth management.

Emmy Lebed - is studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Queen’s University. Emmy is the President of Queen’s Ukrainian Students Association, a volunteer for Help Us Help the Children and a Plast camp counsellor.

Michael Rebryk Memorial Scholarship - awarded to students showing community involvement and studying in the field of either sports & recreation or performing arts.

Sophia Holowaty - is studying towards a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree at the University of Toronto. She is Co-President of the University of Toronto Ukrainian Students Club, a year-round and summer counsellor for Plast, and a fundraising volunteer for the Ukrainian Care Centre.

Eugene Roman Scholarship - awarded to students enrolled in a post-secondary institution that will lead to a career in the technology sector, shows above-average academic skills and demonstrates leadership and community involvement.

Alexandra Pavliuc - is studying towards her PhD in Social Data Science at Oxford University. She is involved with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, leading impactful webinars and virtual presentations on topics related to Russian disinformation, data science and social media. She is also a volunteer with Plast and Help Us Help the Children.

UCU Community Leadership Scholarship – awarded to students showing community involvement and studying in various programs in a post-secondary educational institution.

Viktoriya Prykhodko - is studying towards a Master of Education degree at the University of Toronto.  Over the past 3 years, she has volunteered at various Ukrainian Saturday Schools and for the Special Olympics. She was previously on the executive of the University of Toronto Ukrainian Students Club.

Alexa Sochaniwsky - is studying towards an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Math and Statistics at McMaster University. She is the Vice President of the McMaster Ukrainian Students Association and has volunteered at Barvinok Ukrainian Dance School and the Etobicoke Humane Society.

Larysa Stech - is studying towards an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Life Sciences at McMaster University. She has been on the Dean’s List the past 2 years, is President of the McMaster Ukrainian Students Association, a volunteer peer mentor at McMaster Life Sciences Society and a program coordinator at CYM.

UCU congratulates the scholarship recipients and wishes all of our student Members a meaningful and successful academic year.



UCU Annual General Meeting


UCU hosted its 77th Annual General Meeting on April 20th as a virtual Zoom event - following the guidelines set by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure community safety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yaroslaw Borys, UCU Board Chair, and Taras Pidzamecky, UCU CEO, presented the annual report which showed strong financial results despite the volatility set off by the pandemic. They revealed 2020 was a year of healthy growth, solid results and prudent increases in reserves that will serve to mitigate pandemic related uncertainties ahead.

Thank You to Our Employees

On behalf of UCU Members and the Board of Directors, a heartfelt appreciation was extended to all UCU employees who kept Branches open as an essential service – in particular the Branch staff who interacted directly with the public and meticulously followed health and safety protocols to keep Members, themselves and their families safe.

Many UCU staff had to take on new responsibilities to serve Members remotely through the expanded Call Centre. They helped Members navigate UCU’s digital landscape of online and mobile app banking to minimize the need to visit a local Branch.

2020 Financial Highlights

In 2020, UCU continued to grow and its underlying financial performance remained stable. Assets increased over $67 million, deposits grew just over $56 million and loans to Members increased by more than $40 million.

Long before the pandemic, UCU put into place a careful asset-liability management plan. This plan coupled with stronger revenues from Wealth Management, creditor insurance and service fees, resulted in an overall increase in total revenue for 2020.

Credit Report

UCU did not experience a year-over-year spike in loans written off – but Management was careful to set aside sufficient loan reserves to take into account possible fallout from the once-in-a-century social and economic turmoil brought on by the pandemic.

UCU indicators for credit risk and delinquent loans in 2020 remained well below that of the credit union sector overall.

COVID-19 Response

UCU was able to support Business Members through the administration of 170 CEBA loans totaling over $6 million. Management also implemented a successful loan deferral program to assist borrowing Members who were negatively impacted by the pandemic.

UCU increased its Call Centre capacity by four times and extended Call Centre hours to grow this service channel to help our Members discover the convenience and safety of doing their banking from home.

Sharing Our Co-Operative Success

One of UCU’s core values - Building Community - did not take a break during the pandemic when assistance was needed more than ever. UCU supported more than 130 organizations with donations and sponsorships in 2020 - maintaining the lion’s share of previous years’ community support in place despite the uncertainty and tighter economic conditions brought on by COVID-19.

2020 Annual Report

The full 2020 Annual Report, including the Audit Committee report, report of the Independent Auditor and summary consolidated statement of financial position can be found on the UCU website.


UCU Board of Directors Nominees


During this year’s Annual General Meeting, three current Board members and one new Board member were elected by acclamation to the UCU Board of Directors.

The newly elected members bring diverse knowledge and viewpoints to the Board and will work closely with other members to support UCU's Vision Statement. The Board members will be involved in strategic planning, policy development and management oversight of the Credit Union.

Meet the newly elected Board members.

Slawko (Yaroslaw) Borys

Slawko (Yaroslaw) Borys was elected to the UCU Board of Directors in 2013 and has served as Chair since 2019. He is also a member of the Governance Committee.

Mr. Borys has been involved in the Aviation Industry for over 20 years - primarily dealing with flight operations, safety & risk management and regulatory affairs. During his career he has held several management positions with Canadian airlines and is currently Director of Safety, Security and Regulatory Affairs for Air Canada’s new airline, Air Canada rouge.

He is an active member of the Ukrainian Canadian community with leadership roles in the Ukrainian National Federation and sits on the Board of UNF – Toronto.

Bob Diakow

Bob Diakow is a retired senior manager with a broad background in manufacturing, wholesale distribution and municipal government in the Information Technology (IT) sector. He has extensive experience in strategic planning, project management, governance and financial management.

Mr. Diakow served on the board of the Ukrainian (St. Catharines) Credit Union for 25 years, before its merger with Ukrainian Credit Union Limited, including ten years as President of the Board.

He is an active member of the Ukrainian Canadian community and is currently on the executive of the St. Catharines branch of the UNF and the Niagara Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Elena (Olena) Kroupa

Elena (Olena) Kroupa is the Director of Information Systems and Technology Solutions at United Way of Greater Toronto. She has been driving transformational change through complex corporate initiatives for close to two decades across multiple industries, including marketing and advertising, financial services, insurance, and pharmaceutical.

She is an active member of the Ukrainian Canadian community and supports many projects initiated by the Josyf Cardinal Slipyj School and the Ukrainian Heritage School of St. Nicholas Parish.

Taras (Walter) Rohatyn

Taras (Walter) Rohatyn has been a UCU Board member for the past 5 years. He has a broad employment background which includes working in banking, commercial credit, the provincial government and the non-profit sector.

He is an active member of the Ukrainian Canadian community and currently holds the position of Chair of the UNF Foundation. He was past Director of the National Executive of UNF Canada as well as past President of the Sudbury and Windsor UNF Branches.

More information about the UCU Board of Directors can be found on the UCU website.