Three rural Saskatchewan credit unions, including two with branches in west central Saskatchewan, are moving towards a merger.

The board of directors for Rosetown's Prairie Centre Credit Union, Maple Creek's Cypress Credit Union, and Diamond North Credit Union unanimously endorsed the business idea for a merger on Monday. Voting for membership will take place in September with Jan. 1, 2025, targeted for the merger if approved by regulators.

The trio of financial institutions have all had long-standing working relationships with one another for years and talks between them about combining began in December of 2023.

Blair Wingert, the CEO of Prairie Centre Credit Union since March of 2022, would become the CEO of the proposed credit union. He believes the move will help them better adapt to the regularly changing financial services industry being experienced in Saskatchewan and Canada.

Blair Wingert (Photos courtesy of Prairie Centre Credit Union)

"A number of system-wide issues are elevating the costs as well as just making it more and more difficult to operate at smaller financial institutions," he said. "I think that's where conversations have initiated from.

"What we're trying to do here is, form a rural alternative. We're trying to gather some scale and scope by bringing some like-minded rural-based credit unions together. It might be an alternative for other credit unions in the future to join. It's a big focus on rural Saskatchewan, a big focus on the agriculture sector, and just keeping those services in our communities."

If the merger is approved they'd be the fourth largest credit union in Saskatchewan with over 36,000 members and over $2.5 billion in assets. Strength in numbers will play a key to longevity and staying current with the industry demands Blair said. 

"This is going to allow us to bring more long-term stability," he said. "It will allow us to be more competitive in the market as well as staying current [by] being able to provide the updated technology and some of the services we see coming down the pipeline the next few years."

Filling job vacanies and having skilled workers in the best positions to succeed and advance the companies have also been a challenge at times but the move is hoping to aid that concern.

"It will really allow us to bring our experienced and skilled employees together to leverage some of those talents and solve some of the issues we're seeing today," he said.

The three credit unions combine to have 30 locations, with 14 southwest branches in Rosetown, Eatonia, Eston, Elrose, Kyle, Beechy, Dinsmore, Outlook, Elbow, Lornburn, Harris, Richmound, Fox Valley, and Burstall.

"Our stance has always been that as long as our branches are profitable and the communities are supporting us we will be there to serve them," he said about staying in their already established locations.

Before members cast their votes in September, the three credit unions will spend the next few months engaging with them beginning with Open House Road Shows. Each CEO will visit all of their branch locations this month to help inform their clients of the proposal.

No new name or logo has been created yet but they're working with an agency to develop them.