Remarks by Jane Rooney, Finanical Literacy Leader, at the Canadian Payroll Association Annual Conference 

Speech

June 29, 2018
Ottawa, Ontario
Shaw Centre

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Good morning everyone!

It’s a pleasure to be here, and to talk about the role of financial literacy, and the benefits to employers and employees of implementing financial well-being programs in the workplace.

First, I’d just like to take a few moments for those of you who may not be aware, to describe our role at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and what it is we do.

FCAC’s mandate is to protect financial consumers, and we do that in two ways.

First, we are responsible for supervising financial institutions such as banks when it comes to consumer protection – for example, ensuring that banks provide access to basic banking, and disclose their fees and interest on loan products.

Second, we play a national role in strengthening financial literacy, which we define as having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make informed financial decisions.

In 2014, the federal government appointed me as Canada’s first Financial Literacy Leader to provide national leadership on this issue, and to work with stakeholders toward strengthening the financial literacy of Canadians.

The need for financial literacy has never been stronger.

We live in a rapidly changing digital marketplace where we make fast decisions about our money, and where financial products and services are increasingly complex.

This video describes how money is a leading cause of stress, and how that stress can affect people on the job.

A new survey released just last month by the Financial Planning Standards Council found that 40 percent of Canadians rank money as their leading source of stress, greater than work, health or family obligations.

And 51 percent say they are embarrassed about lacking control over their financial situation, up from 44 percent in 2014.

As well, your association’s own employee survey last year found:

  • 47 percent of Canadians say they’re living paycheque to paycheque, and
  • 35 percent say they feel overwhelmed by debt.

(Just an aside, the CPA’s employee survey provides very valuable data. I know this conference’s organizers have been reminding you to complete this year’s survey, so let me join them in encouraging you to do it!)

So we’re learning that financial stress spills over into the workplace.

You may have noticed another alarming statistic in that video – again from your own survey:  50 percent of employees feel financial stress is affecting their performance.

Money worries can keep employees from focusing on their work, and can have significant impacts on productivity and the bottom line.

They also have negative effects on mental and physical health.

That in turn places a heavier burden on employee benefit plans, and workers’ compensation programs.

We’ve seen other signs of the impact of money stress on long-term financial planning.

For example, women are among the fastest-growing demographic of impoverished retirees in Canada.

That’s according to a study by the U.S. National Institute of Retirement Security which was corroborated by Statistics Canada.

And, new data from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) shows that the use of reverse mortgages among seniors and near-seniors continues to rise.

The balance on these loans - available to people 55 and up - rose a staggering 25 per cent in March of this year, compared to the same month last year.

That’s a very worrying trend.

Seniors and near–seniors are going deeper into debt.


How FL can help

The good news is that financial literacy can help, and we know that you at CPA understand this!

In fact, we’re so much on the same wavelength, we even share a slogan – “It Pays to Know!”

Joking aside, CPA is one of our key stakeholders, and the work you are doing already touches many, many Canadians at work. Just a few examples:

Your support for Financial Literacy Month each year with events and information

Your “Pay Yourself First” videos, which carry an important message about saving

And your “Understanding your Paycheque” video, which is a great tool and helps strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians in the workplace

More and more, we’re finding the workplace is a key delivery channel for adult financial literacy.

We know it works, and we know that employee motivation is high.

Again, your own survey found 82 percent of employees in Canada would be interested in financial education programs offered by their employer.

And that’s a win-win for both employees and employers.

So, as many of you know, at FCAC we’ve created a Workplace working group, and I’m pleased to say our host here today - Janice MacLellan – is a member! Thank you for your contribution!

The Workplace Working Group is designed to help adults achieve the goals of our national strategy, namely to:

  • manage money and debt wisely;
  • save and plan for the future; and
  • ensure they know their rights and responsibilities pertaining to financial products and services

The group is made up of 11 participants from strategically selected associations – including the CPA, as I mentioned.

Other members include professional actuaries, accountants, and HR specialists.

And its goals are to develop pilot programs, build a best practices framework, and deliver programs to workplaces across the country.


Workplace Pilot

I just want to tell you a little bit about a workplace pilot project that we at FCAC created and tested earlier this year.

First, we took our existing educational program for adults - called Your Financial Toolkit - and tailored it specifically to the workplace.

We then delivered 15 workshops at 9 unique host sites in the public, non-profit and private sector.

Nearly 300 people took part, and three-quarters of them evaluated the impact of the program when they were finished.

The preliminary results of those evaluations are just amazing.

As you can see here:

  • 76 percent of participants felt they increased their knowledge on budgeting to reach their goals
  • 70 percent of participants felt they increased their knowledge in managing their credit cards
  • 75 percent of participants felt they had increased their knowledge on managing their debt

These results will inform our development of the Best Practices Framework for Financial Education in the Workplace.

We plan to release the first version of the framework for employers to use by the end of this year.

So that’s just one way in which the working group is building connections and collaborating so that workplaces across Canada don’t have to start from scratch as they begin to strengthen their employees’ financial literacy.

Which brings me to the question of what you can do, as payroll and HR specialists, to better promote financial literacy among your clients and in your workplaces.

First of all, at FCAC we have a wealth of great online resources.

You can access all of our free, unbiased and bilingual information and tools, as well as our videos, by going to Canada.ca/money.

We have financial literacy programs for adults, as well as online resources, like:

  • recently upgraded account and credit card selector tools
  • financial goal and budget calculators,
  • mortgage calculators, and
  • online financial literacy self-assessment quiz.

And, if you want more, our Canadian Financial Literacy Database is an important online resource.

It’s a one-stop place where Canadians can find tools to learn how to manage money and debt, whether they’re thinking about buying a new home or getting ready for retirement, for example.

The database has a filter for employers, so they can find resources for their organization.

So take a look, and please include our links in your materials, online postings, intranet and emails.


Other Calls to Action

You can also host a financial literacy session in your workplace.  You can use our materials, which come with a facilitator guide, or you can access one of several existing workplace programs developed by FCAC’s workplace working group members, including the Chartered Professional Accountants, and Credit Counselling Canada. Contact us if you want more information.

There’s also another great initiative you can join.

You can sign up your clients or your workplace for the Money Fit Challenge, which was launched last November.

For this challenge, FCAC collaborated with a company called Best Life Rewarded Innovations.

The result is a free, educational initiative to help Canadians learn more about money matters and take important small steps to improve their own personal financial well-being.

Participants can earn points toward prizes when they complete learning activities around budgeting, saving, borrowing, debt and their rights and responsibilities as financial consumers.

The material is presented in an engaging format, including videos, tools and written information.

The Challenge is designed to be turnkey: employers don’t need to use additional resources and little effort, and by joining as a workplace, they can earn extra points for their employees

You can find out more information by going to www.MoneyFitChallenge.com

Some of you may have already visited our booth during the first day of the conference and you may already have collected these materials

But for those of you who missed it, we have posters you can display in the common areas of your workplace and a brochure to help build the argument for a financial well-being program within your workplace.

Displaying these posters and distributing these brochures can make a difference to your employees, so if you email us a request at leader@fcac.gc.ca, we will send you the PDFs, or printed versions.

I hope I’ve been able to inspire some of you to continue to strengthen the financial literacy of your own workplaces and those of your clients.

As payroll and HR specialists, you are already helping to disseminate key financial literacy tools, resources and concepts to people during their working years.

This just-in-time approach means employees will gain financial knowledge, skills and confidence when they need it most.

The result is likely to be: reduced stress, reduced absenteeism, and increased workplace productivity.

And that means everyone will benefit.

It really does pay to know!

Thank you.

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