November 1, 2018
Bank of Canada Museum, Ottawa, Ontario
Check against delivery
It is a pleasure to be here with you, Governor Poloz. I am grateful to the Bank for co-hosting this event and for allowing us to use this wonderful space.
What makes this event especially significant, of course, is the reason for it: The launch of Financial Literacy Month 2018 (FLM).
Today I’d like to draw a quick sketch of where financial literacy fits in our mandate at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
Our role is to protect financial consumers, and we do this in two ways. The first way is by overseeing banks and other federally regulated financial entities to ensure that they comply with their market conduct obligations, which were designed to protect consumers.
The second way is to strengthen the financial literacy of all Canadians. This function is a key complement to our role of consumer protection.
Financial literacy means ensuring that consumers are armed with the knowledge they need to navigate a complex financial marketplace, the skills to choose well between financial products and services, and the confidence to ask the right questions.
Because, better informed consumers are better-protected consumers. And stronger financial literacy among individuals contributes to the economic stability of the country as a whole.
While there have been some improvements in how people feel about their finances this year over last, there are still some worrisome long-term trends. One such trend is substantiated by the Canadian Payroll Association’s 2018 employee survey, which found that 40 percent of Canadians say they are overwhelmed by debt – up 5 percent over last year.
So this year’s theme for FLM – Invest in your Financial Well-being – couldn’t be more relevant.
I’d like to close by acknowledging the monumental efforts of our stakeholders across all sectors, many of whom are participating in today’s fair. These are the individuals and organizations who work closely with financial consumers, including those groups most vulnerable to financial challenges – helping them learn to successfully manage their finances.
It is a privilege to acknowledge and thank at least some of these stakeholders in person.
I’ll also thank the National Steering Committee, the financial literacy networks, and all the organizations and individuals who will be playing a role this month.
In less than the span of a generation, financial literacy has evolved from being a little-known but necessary undertaking, to becoming the beating heart of a vast network of dedicated practitioners and advocates.
Throughout this month, Canadians can expect to hear about results, clear goals for the future – and the federal government’s firm commitment to this important cause.