Canada is currently in year two of a country-wide strategy focused on supporting the pocketbooks and bank accounts of Canadians.
The plan, overseen by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, is called: “Make Change that Counts: National Financial Literacy Strategy 2021-2026,” and is the second such successive strategy of its kind.
“It’s important because it represents stability in our lives,” says Alison Howard, Executive Director of ABC Life Literacy Canada — on why financial literacy matters.
“We don’t know what tomorrow will bring whether that’s a change in the economy, a change in our employment, a change in our health that might result in a change of employment or in our expenses. And there are other topics as well that are related. They are important at any age.”
Having the understanding and know-how to navigate money matters and to make well-informed choices is at the crux of what it means to be financially literate.
It is one of the areas that ABC Life Literacy Canada, a nonprofit that supports other organizations with adult learning, provides services for. The other areas of literacy it supports are: civic, cultural, digital, family financial, health and the workplace.
“It’s very important to be able to plan ahead these days more than ever,” Howard told Lianne Castelino during an interview for Where Parents Talk. “And that’s really the mark. It’s one of the marks of moving from childhood to adulthood isn’t it to be able to look past impulse buys, and to be able to plan ahead and to save and to look towards larger and longer term goals for your finances,” she says.
Howard’s interview also aired on Where Parents Talk radio on 105.9 The Region FM.
The inextricable link between personal and financial health has been brought to the fore — in new, raw and unpredictable ways — by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The ensuing worldwide economic slowdown, further exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine, soaring inflation and the rising cost of living in many countries, has only further blurred the lines between financial and mental health, underscoring both their fragility and far-reaching impact.
“With all of the workplace shutdowns that happened during the pandemic, these have all had a negative effect on the ability of adults in particular, but also some youth, to participate in learning and training opportunities that often happen through your workplace — because a lot of learning is done informally in the workplace,” Howard continues. “So without that ability to attend work, you are losing a lot of these opportunities for learning. And these are not going to be easily recovered.”
Each November has also been designated Financial Literacy Month.
The latest Statistics Canada data available, gleaned from a 2019 survey, found:
- 73.2 per cent of Canada have some form debt owing or outstanding over the preceding 12 months
- Almost one-third of Canadians feel they have too much debt
- Mortgage debt is the largest form of debt Canadians hold
- Some 40 per cent of Canadian have a mortgage