Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

July 18, 2007 11:22 ET

FCAC's Business Plan Sets a Strong Framework for Consumer Protection

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 18, 2007) - The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has indicated, in its Business Plan for 2007-09, that it intends to build on the success of its consumer education activities and its regulatory oversight of financial institutions to further strengthen consumer protection and education.

"Since it was established, in 2001, the Agency has made considerable strides in consumer education. We have created a number of plain-language products and interactive tools, which provide consumers with information about their rights and responsibilities when dealing with federally regulated financial institutions," said FCAC's Acting Commissioner Jim Callon.

"As a regulator, FCAC has made a real impact in the marketplace by taking action to improve financial institutions' compliance with consumer protection laws, voluntary codes of conduct and public commitments. As a result, hundreds of thousands of consumers have benefitted directly from changes made to the financial system," added Callon.

Going forward

Over the next two years, FCAC will expand its consumer education activities by creating new educational materials and continuing to improve its Web site. The Agency will also continue to enhance its risk-based compliance framework to maintain a fair, transparent approach to supervising federally regulated financial institutions, while ensuring that it is addressing important issues at the industry level, for the benefit of all Canadians.

FCAC will continue to work with federally regulated financial institutions to improve their knowledge of their obligations to consumers. To accomplish this, the Agency will deliver compliance workshops, which it recently developed, to interested financial institutions.

Also, in response to Bill C-37, FCAC's Compliance and Enforcement Branch will assess, plan and implement the changes required to the Agency's compliance framework, procedures, processes and systems.

Financial literacy

Recognizing the need in Canada for a financial literacy framework, the federal government - in its budget of March 19, 2007 - allocated $3 million to FCAC to develop and implement a national financial literacy program. This funding will enable FCAC to develop instructional materials for financial literacy education - especially for young people - and facilitate the sharing of these materials and information with other financial education partners.

"The Agency will lay the groundwork for this project by assessing the momentum and commitment that exist - in public-sector, voluntary and private-sector organizations - to design and develop a financial literacy framework. The Agency has already begun national discussions on this initiative and will report further on it in the coming months," explained Acting Commissioner Callon.

Another related priority for the Agency will be to organize a symposium, in 2008, to develop and support a national financial literacy program. This will be a follow-up to the first national symposium that FCAC spearheaded in 2005 on financial capability, which examined policy options for helping Canadians understand, manage and improve their financial situation.

"In FCAC's view, the objective of an effective financial literacy framework is to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity and the tools to become aware of financial opportunities, to know where to go for help, to make informed choices and to take effective action to improve their financial well-being," added Callon.

"With its dual mandate of protecting consumers and providing them with timely, objective information, the Agency fulfills an important function, which I believe is indispensable to a healthy, competitive and fair marketplace. Our Business Plan provides a general road map for our plans and priorities over the coming two years and identifies the key activities that we will implement to protect Canadian consumers and ensure that they have the information and skills they need to participate actively in and strengthen the financial sector," added Callon.

To consult FCAC's Business Plan for 2007-09, visit the Agency's Web site at: www.fcac.gc.ca. The Agency also publishes a variety of useful publications that consumers can download from its Web site, or order free of charge in print form, by calling FCAC's Consumer Contact Centre, toll-free, at: 1-866-461-3222.

FCAC ensures compliance with the consumer protection laws and monitors the codes of conduct and public commitments that apply to banks and federally incorporated trust, loan and insurance companies. FCAC also provides consumers with accurate, objective information about financial products and services, and informs Canadians of their rights and responsibilities when dealing with federally regulated financial institutions.

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