My Breakup Story: Why TD Bank and I are Calling it Quits


Extent of commitment:

All in (I did stray for a couple of years with a second account at Scotiabank but I was a student and these things happen). TD has handled my earnings from babysitting and summer jobs, RSPs from my first real job, mortgage, line of credit, and RESPs for my kids.

Contentment score (on a scale of 1-10): 

Averaging a solid 7 – there were a lot of nice people involved in this relationship over the years

Reason for breakup:

Irreconcilable differences

Length of relationship: 

50 years, give or take a few months

I really tried to make it work.

I even defended TD as “not any worse than any other bank” for a while. But about 11 years ago, serious cracks began to show. 

Meeting with an advisor at my branch about my late husband’s estate, I was given a sympathetic ear but no options when it came to investments that were fossil-fuel-free. Basically, they don’t exist, I was told. And then came the question: why did I care that my bank was funding fossil fuel industries?

It wasn’t easy to articulate at the time, but there was already evidence that emissions from burning carbon were fundamentally changing the climate and the health of the planet. Beyond that, living in Alberta, I was uncomfortable with the chokehold the oil and gas industry had on the economy and politics of the province. I didn’t want to add even our meagre investments to the staggering profits they were making from polluting and exploitation.

And I definitely didn’t want funds that were set up to help our kids get through school and feel somewhat secure as they found their path in life to in fact be handed over to companies and projects that were knowingly causing deep and possibly irreversible damage to their future, and all future generations.  

So, that conversation didn’t end well. The very nice investment advisor was taken aback. I was frustrated and angry.  Maybe I should have broken it off right then. Instead, I went along with what was offered, and meanwhile started to learn everything I could about this other relationship involving my bank: the one that is keeping fossil fuel companies alive by putting their profits ahead of people’s well-being. Here’s some of what I’ve learned.

  • Without hundreds of billions of dollars in backing from the financial industry, along with subsidies from the federal government, fossil fuel companies couldn’t keep expanding their operations. While most of us are finding it increasingly hard to afford necessities, let alone build our savings, we as a society are pouring money into private industry and it’s ending up in very few pockets. Canada’s top five banks are all among the top 20 fossil fuel funders in the world over the past five years. TD was the 11th biggest fossil fuel funder in the world in 2023. They gained that distinction by investing over $20B (USD) in fossil fuel projects last year alone, and over $178B since the Paris Agreement was signed. 

  • And they’re falling behind on the global stage. As other financial institutions around the world are cutting back or divesting entirely, Canada’s banks and our regulation of the financial industry continue to lag behind, propping up an industry that literally aligns itself with dinosaurs.

  • There is overwhelming evidence that emissions from burning carbon are fundamentally changing weather patterns, growing seasons, wildfire activity, and air, land and water pollution. All these changes are exponentially increasing the risk to humans from extreme heat and storms, food shortages, chronic breathing and other health issues, and loss of our homes, jobs, community infrastructure and security. We see it play out every year right in front of us, and the toll on our mental and physical health and well-being is tangible. 

  • To maintain the free reign of extractive activity that oil and gas companies need to continue making staggering profits, existing systems of social and environmental racism and injustice are becoming more entrenched, including court orders and violent arrests of Indigenous land defenders fighting takeover and destruction of their territories for pipeline construction.

Our relationship was on rocky ground. I began writing emails that were redirected to the “appropriate” TD people for mundane responses. I signed petitions. I wrote a heartfelt Google review calling on TD to change that at last count has been viewed more than 1,000 times. None of this felt productive. 

Then I realized I wasn’t alone. 

There are loads of angry and frustrated people who are not getting the answers or the action they want and deserve from their banks. With a small group of parents from the For Our Kids network, we persisted in requesting a meeting with TD officials to specifically address their climate policies, and in April we met with three top executives responsible for the bank’s environmental, social, and governance policies and strategies. They were more than happy to present TD’s plan to work with its carbon-industry-based clients to reach net-zero by 2050. They shared two large, glossy publications with a lot of pictures and numbers in them that were meant to show the progress being made in reaching TD’s climate goals. Spoiler alert: it’s not good. 

I was floored by TD Head of Environment Nicole Vadori’s statement during our meeting that people (meaning TD customers) don’t really care about the bank’s investments in fossil fuel industries – or at least, that they care more about other things. She indicated that TD knows this because of customer surveys they’ve done. 

As anyone who’s ever been in a relationship knows, communication is key, and that goes beyond just asking questions for which you already know the answer. It’s a back and forth, on equal footing, with a genuine interest in reaching a shared goal. The partners may not agree on everything - in fact, it’s healthier if they don’t - but they have to be honest and transparent about what they want.

I guess that’s what convinced me, in the end, that our relationship was unsalvageable. TD and I have fundamentally different goals, despite the assurances in their 2023 Sustainability Report. I want Canadians, along with our institutions and governments, to plan and implement an intelligent path toward our inevitable carbon-free future, lifting everyone out of systemic inequity, insecurity and carbon dependence. TD Bank (along with Canada’s other top banks and, by the way, the Canada Pension Plan), wants to maintain an un-maintainable status quo while paying lip service to emission-reduction targets. 

I’m running out of time to see a change in my lifetime. I came in at 320 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere; it’s now at over 421 ppm and will continue to increase. I have no time to invest in a relationship with a partner who is working at cross-purposes. 

So that’s my story, such as it is. You might be saying to yourself – look, TD has 10 million customers in Canada. Are they really going to notice if a few hundred take their banking elsewhere?  

It’s a fair question. And I guess I’d say that I wonder whether three random people would have been invited to a meeting room in TD Tower, downtown Toronto, with three TD executives, if they weren’t noticing. 

I think they’re also noticing that the number of options is growing, including credit unions and sustainable investment advisors. And they have to be noticing the increasing pressure from stakeholders for better and clearer reporting on its target goals, particularly since it’s not meeting them.   

Every voice makes a difference. Every action counts. That’s why I’m breaking things off and sharing my story. 


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