Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expanding his new working group on credit to include other stakeholders, a move that gave non-bank lenders their first voice at the table yesterday as the parties huddled for secret talks in Toronto.

Flaherty himself was not present, but an industry source said executives from individual banks, along with the Canadian Bankers Association, met with their counterparts from Desjardins, Canada’s largest co-operative financial group, and Credit Union Central of Canada.

The issue of credit availability for business and consumers remains top of mind for the group. It was unclear whether the financial co-operatives would take up permanent seats or function as observers.

Still, their invitation to participate was another hint the federal government could take more action to bolster credit when it reveals its budget on Jan. 27.