Issue No. 5
FCAC launches re-designed website
Visit FCAC's re-designed website, complete with new and updated content, as well as interactive tools and multimedia features. Navigate by topic or life event to find unbiased financial information.
Have you tried FCAC's new budget calculator?
Let FCAC's new interactive budget calculator do the math for you. This easy-to-use tool can also be downloaded as a spreadsheet and saved onto your computer.
FCAC publishes guide to help consumers explore the world of insurance
Understanding Insurance Basics describes the most common types of insurance, what consumers should know before buying insurance and how to file a complaint. It also provides a glossary of insurance terminology.
As you know, a lot has happened on the financial literacy front in Canada during the last six months. The Task Force on Financial Literacy made a series of recommendations to the Minister of Finance, which will serve as a road map to develop Canada's national strategy on financial literacy.
The Task Force's recommended plan of action falls into five priority areas: shared responsibility; leadership and collaboration; lifelong learning; delivery and promotion; and accountability. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is pleased that the Task Force indentified these priorities, as they reflect the principles that have guided the Agency's work since its inception in 2001.
As I've said before, if we want to succeed in increasing the financial literacy of Canadians, we must continue to work together. All of us — representatives of the public, private, non-for-profit and academic sectors — share responsibility when it comes to financial literacy. Each of us, in our respective fields, is a financial literacy champion; when we come together to share our best practices, develop new partnerships and programs and promote each other's work, we truly demonstrate our leadership and commitment to improving financial literacy.
These principles are fundamentally entrenched in our Agency's work and mandate. When we began working on our third financial literacy conference a year ago, we knew from the start we would convey the same message and spirit. Without knowing then what recommendations the Task Force would make, FCAC invited the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to partner in the organization of this event. Together, we chose the name Partnering to Turn Financial Literacy into Action for the conference.
And, today, I'm extremely happy to report that the conference, held on May 26-27 in Toronto, was a great success. Close to 400 delegates from Canada and around the world attended the event. Leaders from the public, private, academic and voluntary sectors came together with great enthusiasm to share their experiences, best practices and innovations, strengthening the ties that unite us as members of the financial literacy's global community. I sincerely hope that, like me, you came out of this conference with a lot of new ideas and contacts, as well as feeling re-energized in the pursuit of your respective financial literacy initiatives. I invite you to visit the conference's website to view the presentations that you may not have been able to attend, and to see the conference's final report, which should be available in fall 2011.
We've also been extremely busy with several other projects, as you will see in the What's new section. We have updated the content and design of several of our flagship publications according to our clear language principles. We have released new tip sheets on mortgages, a new publication on the basics of insurance and a new online budget calculator. We have also reviewed and redesigned our entire website. It now allows consumers to navigate by topic or life event to find the financial information they need. We have added multimedia features, such as video vignettes and social media elements.
I'm also proud to report, in the article below, on our latest partnership with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges to bring the Financial Basics workshops to post-secondary students across Canada. In addition, FCAC and the Investor Education Fund (IEF) have developed a new pilot project in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, called Money Apps. Inspired by Financial Basics, Money Apps is an interactive 90-minute presentation developed to help graduating high school students understand and manage their finances whether they plan to enter the workforce, attend a post-secondary institution or join a training or apprenticeship program. Pilot sessions were held in April and were hosted by Seneca College and the University of Toronto.
I would like to thank all the contributors for submitting their best practices and success stories with us. I invite you to visit their websites to learn more about their programs and services. Please join us for our next edition, which is scheduled to be published in December 2011.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's newsletter aims to showcase financial literacy initiatives taking place across Canada in order to promote best practices and spark new initiatives or partnerships that will bring us closer to a more financially literate Canada.
If you would like to share a financial literacy success story with FCAC, please contact Martine Bélanger: email@example.com.
In response to widespread interest in improving young people's understanding of basic financial concepts and their real-life applications, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) and the Investor Education Fund (IEF) partnered with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) to offer financial literacy workshops at 10 colleges across the country.
Many young people get their first experience managing finances when they go away to college or university. Post secondary students are, in many cases, at the age where they can apply for loans, credit cards and other financial services. At this stage of their lives, it is crucial that they learn and understand the fundamentals of financial products and services in order to avoid making costly mistakes.
The Financial Basics workshop offers young adults a learning experience on financial topics of vital importance and teaches them money management skills for life. These topics include creating a budget, managing expenses, credit and debt management; protecting yourself from fraud; and saving for the future.
In March 2011, the following colleges delivered Financial Basics workshops in French or English as part of the project: Algonquin College (Ottawa, ON), Assiniboine Community College (Brandon, MB), Collège Acadie Î.-P.-É. (Wellington, PEI), Conestoga College (Kitchener, ON), La Cité collégiale (Ottawa, ON), Nova Scotia Community College (Halifax, NS), Parkland College (Melville, SK), Seneca College (Markham, ON), St. Clair College (Windsor, ON) and the Vancouver Community College (Vancouver, BC).
Several hundred participants took part and most colleges plan on offering the workshop again based on the interest and positive feedback it received. "I found the Financial Basics workshop very interesting and helpful in many ways. At 19, I learned the importance of managing and saving money and steps on how to do it no matter where I am at financially. I think this course would benefit all young adults who want to be more aware of how to spend money wisely and save, so they can feel safe and secure for their future plans and goals." – Amanda Tarr, Yorkton Community College (Parkland College), Yorkton, Saskatchewan.
Financial Basics was developed by the FCAC and the IEF, in collaboration with Ellen Roseman, financial author and journalist. For more information or to order Financial Basics workshop materials, visit: www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca.
For many students, the prospect of finding a job and repaying their student loans once they have completed their schooling can be intimidating. That's where the Canada Student Loans Program can help.
A Canada Student Loan has a couple of advantages over private loans. First, eligible borrowers don't have to make any payments while they're studying and for the first six months after they graduate, or leave school; however interest does accumulate during this six month time period. Second, if a borrower is having trouble making ends meet, they can get help with the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP).
Borrowers who experience difficulties repaying their Canada Student Loans, should consider applying for RAP as soon as possible. To apply, borrowers should contact the National Student Loans Service Centre or visit CanLearn.ca for more information.
CanLearn.ca offers a wealth of information on saving, planning and paying for post-secondary education, as well as online tools such as the Repayment Assistance Estimator, to help borrowers keep their finances on track.
Toronto-based WoodGreen Community Services works to enhance self-sufficiency, promote well-being and reduce poverty through innovative program and services. Among its many initiatives is a "Money Management" course, offered as part of the Boundless Possibilities for Women Program, a 16-week job-training and college-preparation course for women, many of whom have experienced violence. The Program, and its Money Management course, have made a real difference in the lives of many women and one of them agreed to share her experience for this article.
Leila Abbas (fictitious name) arrived in Canada in 2003 with her husband and three children to begin a new life. But Leila's husband became increasingly abusive, and she was forced to flee to a shelter with her children. She had to begin rebuilding her life as a single parent, and found herself in charge of the family finances - something that was completely new to her.
For years, Leila had been forbidden to handle any household money - not even to buy food and clothing for her kids. Now, Leila was overwhelmed at the prospect of managing her finances alone. She turned to WoodGreen Community Services and found the critical social services she needed. Among others, she enrolled in the Money Management course where she learned about everything from credit reports to tax returns, and also began to understand how to address her student loan debt.
Leila was very afraid to speak up in public. She recalls, "so many times in class, everybody was talking but my mouth wouldn't let me speak. I remember when Elaine [the teacher] talked about loans and I had so many questions I wanted to ask, but my mouth wouldn't." As the course progressed, Leila gained financial knowledge and also increased her self-confidence. She was particularly nervous about dealing with debt collectors, but after learning about the collections system she gained perspective. "Before, I had a fear of my creditors, now I can tell them my situation and I'm not so afraid," she says. Leila says she is deeply grateful to WoodGreen Community Services for offering this class, noting how much she learned and how it helps her be optimistic about the future.
"I learned that I can have RESPs for my kids even when I'm on social assistance. I also learned about TFSAs. I want to manage my debt, I want to get my place, settle down, and then I'll need to make a budget, and WoodGreen taught us how in the Money Management class."
For more information about WoodGreen Community Services and its various programs, visit www.woodgreen.org.
In British Columbia at least 1 in 12 seniors experience abuse. Financial abuse is the most commonly reported. As the Task Force on Financial Literacy recognized in its report, the rapid aging of Canada's population makes financial abuse of older adults a growing problem.
In 2008, the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support (BC CEAS) received funding from the Human Resources Skills Development Canada, New Horizons for Seniors Program, to create a series of financial abuse resources targeting older adult consumers. To help with this project, the BC CEAS contracted the Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL) which produced the following materials:
Protect Yourself! is a self-contained train-the-trainer binder that allows agencies to train their own volunteers to deliver educational workshops, following a peer education model. The binder includes the material for two workshops, as well as resources for teaching volunteers. Workshop 1 is focused on powers of attorney and joint accounts. Workshop 2 discusses frauds and scams.
Financial Literacy 102 - A knowledge based approach to preventing financial abuse of older adults: a guide for professionals is a resource manual that provides an introduction to financial abuse of older adults, and a general overview of topics connected to financial literacy and financial planning for older adults. Directed at organizations that work with older adult consumers, the manual covers mental capacity, and substitute decision-making, and includes a list of resource agencies and tips for best practices.
The CCEL and BC CEAS also co-produced a series of educational videos on powers of attorney, elder abuse and frauds and scams. For more information, visit: www.bcli.org/ccel.
Promoting financial literacy is what credit unions do. Cooperatives and credit unions were founded on seven co-operative principles and among them the fifth principle: "education, training and information," is the impetus for strong financial literacy programs.
Today, there are more than seventy-five financial literacy programs offered by credit unions across Canada. A thorough scan of credit union financial literacy programs is available on the website of Credit Union Central of Canada at: http://cusr.cucentral.com. Some examples include:
For more information about Credit Union Central of Canada, visit: www.cucentral.com.