Remarks by Judith Robertson, Commissioner, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Launch of Financial Literacy Month, November 2020
November 2, 2020
Virtual event, Ottawa, Ontario
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I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather in the National Capital Region is the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People.
From coast-to-coast-to-coast, we also acknowledge the ancestral territory of all the First Nations people, Inuit and Métis with whom we share this land.
I am so very pleased to be here today to launch the 10th anniversary of Financial Literacy Month in my role as the Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
I’d like to extend a warm virtual welcome to Minister Fortier, our valued stakeholders, and industry representatives joining us today.
And I would also like to welcome the members of the public and the media who are attending the launch.
I also want to recognize some special guests ̶ members of the Financial Literacy Action Group, or FLAG.
For those who don’t know, FLAG is a key part of why we are here today.
I want to thank them for reaching out to FCAC 10 years ago to create the very first Financial Literacy Month in Canada and for their continued leadership today.
The first Financial Literacy Month marked the beginning of a tremendous collaboration across the country.
Today, I feel it is especially important to pay tribute to our vast and varied community of stakeholders, the financial industry, and our government partners for the work they do to strengthen financial literacy in Canada.
By working together, we’ve made a difference in the lives of Canadians.
I’d also like to recognize the 18 financial literacy networks, which now represent more than 600 organizations across Canada.
From the Financial Empowerment Network of Nova Scotia, to Aspire Calgary, to the Yukon Literacy Coalition, and beyond – thank you.
At the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, our mandate is to protect financial consumers.
We do this in two ways: by strengthening the financial literacy of Canadians, and by promoting the compliance of federally-regulated financial institutions with their legislative obligations, codes of conduct and public commitments.
Here at FCAC, we have been privileged over the past decade to play a leadership role in financial literacy, thanks to the ongoing support of the federal government.
The government has demonstrated its commitment to advancing this cause.
First, through the appointment of a National Financial Literacy Leader, and then by embedding financial literacy in FCAC’s mandate in 2018.
As we mark the 10th anniversary of Financial Literacy Month, it is a time to reflect on our successes and achievements.
But, it is also a time to recognize that we have to build on what we have learned so far, because financial literacy has taken on increased importance in an ever more complex financial world, and because we are now facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When I think back, I remember my first Financial Literacy Month very well. Perhaps that’s because it was just last year.
At the launch event at the Bank of Canada, I gave my very first speech as FCAC’s Commissioner where I expressed my excitement about the Agency’s work.
Of course, I have learned about the many highlights of the past decade, including our national conferences and research symposia, as well as all the events and activities.
And I continue to be impressed by the level of innovation in the research and programs both here at FCAC, and in the wider community.
Our collective work is more important than ever.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial uncertainty for many Canadians.
That’s why it’s critical that we equip Canadians with the tools and information they need to make informed financial decisions.
But, we need to keep things simple.
Perhaps one of our most important research findings is that by doing small things today, individuals can significantly change their circumstances for the better over the long-term.
And this is true independent of income.
With that in mind, our 10th anniversary campaign for Financial Literacy Month centres on "10 Things you should know in times of financial uncertainty.”
I’ll mention just a couple.
One is the importance of an emergency fund.
I actually don’t like to call it an emergency fund, because it’s really a fund to cover anything unexpected.
We know that we all need to plan for surprises, whether it’s something small like a flat tire, or a tree that falls down in your yard.
But it doesn’t have to be a negative event – it could be something positive, like taking advantage of a deal on an appliance that you need to replace.
The second thing that I will mention is the importance of a budget.
FCAC’s research shows that when people budget, they are noticeably better at managing their money than those who don’t budget.
Those are just a couple of the take-away messages from this year’s campaign. You can find the rest at Canada.ca/Financial-Literacy-Month.
On that web page, you will also find our Canadian Financial Literacy Database that links to FCAC’s tools and resources, and also those of our stakeholders.
This year, we have introduced a new, easy-to-use interface on the tool’s landing page.
So please help us promote this tool and don’t forget to add your own activities and resources.
We will also be holding a few events for you to promote and attend, including:
- a budgeting webinar for all Canadians;
- a webinar on managing money for students and recent graduates, that is being delivered in partnership with the Canadian Bankers Association; and
- an event for stakeholders focused on innovation in financial literacy and education.
Thank you all for your support of Financial Literacy Month - and for all that you do year-round to help Canadians build their financial knowledge, skills and confidence.
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