Financial literacy is a critical life skill for all Canadians. Near and current seniors often face unique financial challenges as they enter and move through this phase in their lives. Whether they are still working, preparing to fully or partially retire, or have already retired, seniors face important decisions related to their money. Gaps in financial literacy skills have made some older Canadians vulnerable to problems, from having difficulty in managing their finances or outliving their retirement savings, to falling victim to fraud or other types of financial abuse.
Toward a National Strategy for Financial Literacy – Phase 1: Strengthening Seniors’ Financial Literacy is a proposed blueprint that will be the focus of online public consultations and in-person stakeholder sessions over the earlier part of summer 2014. The national strategy for financial literacy is expected to be released in summer 2015.
Consultation Goals and Questions
Under the leadership of the Financial Literacy Leader, the Government of Canada is seeking the views of various levels of government, financial services providers, community and non-profit organizations, employers and labour organizations, industry and trade associations, credit counselling agencies, educators and other experts. Canadians can submit their comments on ways to promote the financial literacy of seniors and those approaching this phase of their lives.
The blueprint proposes four goals that are essential to the promotion of seniors’ financial literacy in Canada. Under each, the Government has identified a series of questions that it would like individual and stakeholder feedback on. They are:
- Goal 1: Engage more Canadians in preparing financially for their senior years
- Question: What barriers or disincentives discourage Canadians from preparing financially for their senior years?
- Question: What tools or incentives can be used to help motivate more Canadians to prepare financially for their senior years?
- Goal 2: Empower seniors to plan and manage their financial affairs
- Question: As a current or future senior, can you give examples of the types of materials, tools, services, information, programs and services you would like to see to help you better plan and manage your money?
- Question: How would you like to access such resources or services?
- Goal 3: Improve awareness and understanding of public benefits for seniors
- Question: What are the most effective ways (e.g., mail, advertising, Internet, in-person services) for helping you as a current or future senior understand the public pension system and the benefits you are entitled to
- Goal 4: Increase tools to combat financial abuse of seniors
- Question: What specific tools would you like to have to help you ensure that you don’t fall victim to financial abuse?
- Question: How can governments and others raise awareness about financial abuse?
Protecting Canada’s Seniors
Increasing the financial literacy of near and current seniors is an important step in helping this segment of Canada’s population better prepare for the financial challenges that lie ahead, advance their overall well-being and benefit the economy as a whole.
The Government of Canada has taken other steps to champion seniors’ rights by, namely, enacting the Protecting Canada’s Seniors Act in December of 2012 and developing information on combating elder abuse, which is available at seniors.gc.ca. It has also developed a series of materials to help near seniors plan for retirement and current seniors manage their finances during retirement. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)’s Planning your retirement and Living in retirement life events are available at itpaystoknow.gc.ca.
Financial Literacy Leader
The Financial Literacy Leader’s mandate is to collaborate and coordinate activities with stakeholders to contribute to and support initiatives that strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians. The position of Financial Literacy Leader was established through the Financial Literacy Leader Act in March 2013. Jane Rooney was appointed as Canada’s first ever Financial Literacy Leader on April 15, 2014.
FCAC and Financial Literacy
FCAC was created in 2001 to protect and educate consumers of financial services. Along with its regulatory oversight of financial institutions, FCAC was tasked with improving Canadians’ understanding of the financial sector, its products and services.
Recognizing the need to improve Canadian consumers’ financial knowledge and decision-making, the Government of Canada expanded FCAC’s mandate in 2007 to officially include financial literacy. In 2009, Canada’s Task Force on Financial Literacy travelled across the country to meet with stakeholders and listen to what they had to say about financial literacy and learning from their experience.
FCAC has published various tip sheets and online tools to expand consumer knowledge of money matters. The Agency has also used a “life events” approach to address common financial situations that Canadians will face throughout their lives. In addition, three educational programs have been created and are available online: The City for youth and teachers, Financial Basics for young adults, and Your Financial Toolkit for adults.
In March 2013, the Financial Literacy Leader Act (Bill C-28), which provided for the appointment of a Financial Literacy Leader within FCAC, received Royal Assent, thus implementing the first recommendation of the Task Force on Financial Literacy.