Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

June 17, 2014 11:30 ET

Harper government consults on national strategy for financial literacy

Public and stakeholder consultations will focus on seniors as the first phase of the Government's work towards a comprehensive national strategy reflective of all Canadians

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 17, 2014) - Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Today, Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson and Minister of State (Seniors) Alice Wong joined forces with Canada's Financial Literacy Leader Jane Rooney to launch consultations on a proposed strategy to help improve the financial literacy of Canadians. Recognizing the unique and often significant challenges faced by near and current seniors, the first phase of consultations will focus on seniors. Additional phases will follow with an emphasis on low-income Canadians, Aboriginal peoples, newcomers to Canada, and children, youth and adults.

The proposed blueprint, Toward a National Strategy for Financial Literacy – Phase 1: Strengthening Seniors' Financial Literacy, is intended to encourage discussion and invites comments from all Canadians on ways to bolster the financial literacy of seniors and those approaching this phase of their lives. Stakeholders from the public, private and non-profit sector will take part in in-person sessions across the country. All Canadians are encouraged to submit comments on the blueprint by mail or email by July 15, 2014.

Quick facts

  • In 2009, Canada's Task Force on Financial Literacy met with stakeholders across the country to hear their views on strengthening Canadians' financial literacy. Many of the Task Force recommendations have been implemented or will be by the end of 2014. Key actions taken have included:
    1. Financial Literacy Month was launched in 2011 to engage organizations across Canada in a month-long effort to promote financial literacy. Last November, 91 organizations participated and offered 443 financial education activities to Canadians.
    2. In March 2013, the Financial Literacy Leader Act (Bill C-28) was passed; implementing the Task Force's first recommendation. Jane Rooney was appointed as Canada's first Financial Literacy Leader on April 15, 2014.
  • In Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government committed to working with stakeholders to implement a financial literacy strategy that specifically responds to the needs of seniors.
  • Seniors were identified as a priority group because research shows that financial literacy skills among seniors are low compared to other groups of Canadians. In the 2009 Canadian Financial Capability Survey, seniors had lower scores than younger adults in four areas.
  • In 2011, an estimated 5 million people were 65 or older in Canada. That number is expected to double by 2036, reaching about 10.4 million seniors.
  • The national strategy for financial literacy is expected to be released in summer 2015.

Quotes

"In today's increasingly complex financial marketplace, financial literacy is key to helping seniors make better financial decisions. When seniors have access to the tools they need to make those decisions, not only do they improve their own personal finances but the economy as a whole benefits as well."

- Kevin Sorenson, Minister of State (Finance)

"Our Government is committed to improving the lives of seniors in many ways, including financial literacy. It is a critical life skill for all Canadians and particularly for Canadian seniorswho often face unique financial challenges."

- Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)

"We are committed to working with stakeholders to better understand the unique challenges faced by seniors. I look forward to hearing from Canadians and stakeholders alike throughout this process to ensure that we implement a national strategy that will respond to seniors' needs."

- Jane Rooney, Financial Literacy Leader

Associated links

- Strengthening Seniors' Financial Literacy: Consultation Questions at a Glance

- Toward a National Strategy for Financial Literacy – Phase 1: Strengthening Seniors' Financial Literacy

- Financial Literacy Leader

- Minister of State (Finance) Announces Appointment of Canada's First Financial Literacy Leader

- 2009 Canadian Financial Capability Survey

- Information for seniors (seniors.gc.ca)

- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (itpaystoknow.gc.ca)

BACKGROUNDER

Toward a national strategy for financial literacy – Phase 1: Strengthening seniors' financial literacy

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.

Contact Information

  • Meagan Murdoch
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister of State (Finance)
    1-613-996-7861
    Follow @financecanada on Twitter

    Earl Maynard
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister of State (Seniors)
    1-613-953-1144
    Follow @SocDevSoc on Twitter

    Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
    Media Relations
    1-613-941-4168
    media@fcac-acfc.gc.ca

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