Financial Literacy for Canadian Immigrants

Financial Literacy Strategy in Canada

The Government of Canada recently passed legislation (the Canadian Financial Literacy Leader Act (or Bill C-28)) creating the office of the Financial Literacy Leader. Jane Rooney, former Director of Financial Literacy and Consumer Education at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) was chosen for the position.

The office was created in response to dismal statistics on Canadian financial health. Statistics showed issues of poor debt management; both poor and non-existent retirement savings; and, an increase in financial fraud. Also, there was an absence of solid consumer protection programs and solutions.

Mandate of the Financial Literacy Leader

Jane Rooney’s office must address three very important things:

  1. Centralization

Several Canadian groups are dedicated to helping Canadians sort out their finances. Getting these groups to work together is both a challenge for the Financial Literacy Leader, but will be a benefit to Canadians. When these groups work together, it will help create set industry standards, rules and regulations.

  1. Industry Standards

Creating “best standards.” The hope is that regardless of where you live in Canada everyone will receive the same service and the same information from licensed and accredited financial advisors.

  1. Open Dialogue

Ms. Rooney’s office must also open up discussion between its office and stakeholders in the private, non-profit and public sectors in Canadian society.

Financial Literacy – National Strategy Rollout

In mid-October 2014, the Canadian government published their plans to deliver financial literacy programs across the country. The government focused on four (4) key areas called the “Concept of Financial Literacy”:

  • Knowledge;
  • Skills;
  • Confidence; and
  • Responsible financial decision-making

Groups identified for financial literacy programs were:

  • Aboriginal Canadians
  • Young Adults
  • Low-income and Low net-worth
  • Seniors
  • Adults dependent on others all or some personal finance management
  • Homeowners
  • High-income households
  • Those who have taken financial courses
  • Renters
  • Recent immigrants
  • Very recent immigrants

Out of this report, the government suggested:

  • Providing both financial information and financial education services to newcomers
  • Education and information delivery via orientations and seminars
  • Utilization of pre-existing community programs
    • Immigrant Settlement Assistance Program (ISAP)
    • Language Instructions for Newcomers to Canada Program (LINC)

Stakeholder Consultations

During 2014, the government consulted with several stakeholders to develop future financial literacy programs. Below are the three (3) stages of the plan:

The purpose of this step of the financial literacy plans is to help the fastest growing population in Canada. Key points are to help Canadian seniors and soon-to-be seniors plan for life events like retirement.

The purpose is to be more proactive in making members of this group more aware of resources and programs; come to understand details about those same resources and programs; and, most importantly protect themselves from financial fraud and financial abuse.

The purpose is to provide youth and young adults with financial education (financial literacy) to create financial stability and sustainability, such as goal setting, personal savings, financial planning for now and the future; and, to protect themselves against unsafe financial decisions.

In Canada, Financial Literacy Month is celebrated each November.

This blog written exclusively for Immigrant Times by Deleone Downes

Sources: Financial Post, FCAC, Taskforce on Financial Literacy


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