Financial Literacy Newsletter - November 2017

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Take charge of your finances this Financial Literacy Month!

A word from the Leader

Welcome to the Financial Literacy Month (FLM) 2017 special edition of the Financial Literacy Newsletter. This year’s theme for Financial Literacy Month is "Take Charge of Your Finances: It Pays to Know!”

I’m pleased to announce that we are jumping into FLM 2017 at full speed. On November 1st, FCAC kicked off our 2017 National Conference on Financial Literacy, in Montreal, Quebec. The theme of this year’s conference is "Reporting on Progress, Building the Future: Everything Counts!" 

But that’s just the start of this month’s excitement! We have a wealth of themes and activities planned all across the country. If you’d like to be on our distribution list for updates about FLM events, please contact

In 2012, the Parliament of Canada proclaimed each November as Financial Literacy Month. And so, each year, we collaborate to create awareness and inspire discussions about financial literacy among Canadians, and to let them know about all of the events and resources that are available to help them make informed financial decisions.

We’ll be exploring a different theme each week:

  • Week 1: Achieve financial well-being
  • Week 2: Live within your means 
  • Week 3: Manage money for student life 
  • Week 4: Teach children about money 
  • Week 5: Know your rights and responsibilities

I encourage you to find out more about FLM and how you can take part. Help us spread the word, as we celebrate financial literacy this month! We have a wealth of resources for you to access, including our free promotional material package to help promote financial literacy in your community.

As we all know, it pays to keep a close eye on your finances. As always, I encourage you to use and share our new and improved account and credit card comparison tools, to help you to manage your money and plan for the future. It’s never too late to start, and it pays to know!  

What’s new

Financial literacy in the workplace

This Financial Literacy Month, we would like to highlight the role of financial literacy in the context of workplace mental health – the connection between financial literacy and workplace mental health is an important one. 

The research is clear: money is a leading cause of stress. 

  • 42% of Canadians rank money as their greatest source of stress
  • 47% of employed Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque
  • 35% feel overwhelmed by debt
  • 67% have admitted to dealing with financial issues at work

It’s important to note that financial struggles are not limited to particular types of work, specific industries, or salary ranges; financial issues can impact everyone. All that stress comes with a price for the employer. One Canadian study estimated the cost of financial stress in the workplace in Canada was $16 billion a year. We know that lower financial stress among employees means better workplace dynamics. 

The good news is: financial literacy can help. FCAC defines financial literacy as having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make informed financial decisions. Financial literacy programs can help people to feel more in control of their money. It can teach them how to budget, so they can pay down their debt and set aside emergency savings. And the workplace is a great place to deliver financial literacy workshops, information and tools. 

FCAC has recently created a workplace financial literacy working group. It’s made up of members from across the country and across all sectors, and has two goals:

  • to deliver sustainable workplace financial literacy programs, offered by employers across Canada
  • they will do this by undertaking research and developing pilot programs that will inform the development of a best practices framework

The approach of the working group is to build connections and collaborate so that workplaces across Canada don’t have to start from scratch as they begin to build their financial literacy in-house.

Tips to integrate financial literacy into the workplace:

  • Use the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC) online programs, tools and resources:
    • access free financial tools and calculators
    • find unbiased information on managing money, debt and borrowing, savings and financial fraud
    • link to the online, self-paced learning program “Your Financial Toolkit” on your intranet
  • Encourage employees to make a budget and pointing them to FCAC’s Budget Calculator
  • Encourage employees to visit FCAC’s web page on workplace financial literacy
  • Add money management tips to pay stubs or pension and benefit information
  • Organize financial literacy workshops using FCAC’s Financial Basics workshop materials
  • Find other resources for the workplace in the Canadian Financial Literacy Database

Potential benefits for employers 

  • Increased productivity       
  • Reduced absenteeism        
  • Reduced distractions and presenteeism                

Potential benefits to the employees

  • Increased financial well-being
  • Better health - less stress
  • Improved family and co-worker relationships

FSCO encourages millennials to learn more about life and health insurance

Article provided by the Financial Commission of Ontario

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is participating in Financial Literacy Month with the goal of increasing the awareness and understanding of mature millennials in Ontario regarding life and health insurance, in particular how to assess and select the options that suit their needs and life stages, and the rules that govern the sale of life and health insurance in Ontario. The audience for the campaign was selected in part because millennials are experiencing many of life’s milestone events such as getting married, or having children and, as a result, are looking for financial products with which to protect themselves, their loved ones and their investments.

FSCO has developed a responsive Life and Health Insurance website containing videos, infographics, tip sheets and checklists as well as a questionnaire that enables millennials to examine the biases that prevent them from making the best financial decisions for themselves – present focus and optimism. FSCO will engage millennials through organic social media, a month-long “ask the experts” online panel, and social media and digital advertising, including a campaign on Spotify. Visit FSCO’s website to access its resources and find out more about their Financial Literacy Month campaign.

Learning the basics: financial literacy in schools

For students and teachers in Quebec, there’s something new and exciting on their curriculum this year: financial literacy. 

The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has partnered with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), the Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC) and Revenu Québec to develop teaching activities that complement the secondary school Financial Education Program.

This material is intended to build on the program’s primary competency: “taking a position on a financial issue.”

Teachers can choose from activities proposing a variety of learning situations adapted to young peoples’ reality and focusing on strengthening this competency and its key features, which are:

  • assessing the situation
  • examinating different options
  • considering the legal aspects of each option and 
  • putting his/her position in perspective

These activities are part of the action plan of the Québec Financial Education Strategy, a project undertaken by the AMF in 2014 with the help of the Réseau québécois de l'éducation financière.

Starting this fall, students in Secondary 5 (16- and 17-year-olds) will take a mandatory Financial Education Program. This new course is geared towards helping these students gain a good base in personal finances that will last them a lifetime. It has three modules: 

  1. Consuming Good and Services
  2. Entering the Workforce
  3. Pursuing an Education

The course is focused on the needs of youth today, including their first job, first budget, and first credit card. Students will have the opportunity to explore these highly relevant “firsts” in depth, while being guided through the decision-making process with regards to securing their financial interests. They will also learn how to make informed choices based on needs vs. wants, their personal budgets, their social and economic circumstances, as well as the risks, benefits and incentives involved.

Students will also explore some of the behavioural aspects of decision-making, such as comparing their choices with those of others and recognizing the various influences on their choices. Then, they might want to choose differently. 

Finally, the course will touch on important legal aspects of being a consumer. It will cover consumer rights and responsibilities, and encourage students to be familiar with legal processes and how to assert their rights.

Students stand to benefit enormously from this opportunity to learn about how to manage their finances and how to position themselves for success as they learn how to navigate the ever-changing and complex world of financial services. We all benefit from promoting greater financial literacy in younger generations!

Education Savings Week 2017: Start saving for their future today!

Article provided by Employment and Social Development Canada

Research suggests that children with education savings are more likely to attend and complete post-secondary education. 

November 19 to 25 marks Education Savings Week 2017 in Canada. This week is dedicated to encouraging Canadian families to start saving for their children’s post-secondary education. It’s a week dedicated to promoting the benefits of saving early and providing the next generation with a world of opportunities.

Canadians are encouraged to open a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to save for a child’s education after high school. Anyone can open and contribute to an RESP for a child: a grandparent, aunt or uncle, neighbour or friend. The money saved in the RESP can be used by the child to cover the costs of housing, transportation and other expenses related to education, such as textbooks and tools. 

In addition to RESPs, two education savings incentives are offered by the Government of Canada to help families save for their child’s future: the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB). 

The CESG consists of a basic grant of 20 percent on the first $2,500 in annual personal contributions made to an RESP (available to all Canadians regardless of their family income). An additional amount of CESG is available, which is either 10 percent on the first $500 in annual personal contributions for children from families with a net income between $45,916 and $91,831, or 20 percent on the first $500 in annual personal contributions for children from families with net incomes of $45,916 or less.  

The CLB is available for children from low-income families born in 2004 or later and provides an initial payment of $500 plus $100 for each year of eligibility, up to age 15, to a maximum of $2,000. Personal contributions are not required to receive the CLB.

Find out more about the available education savings incentives and help us inform Canadians how they can start saving for their future today!   

Removing the mystery: HELOCs, in brief

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about home equity lines of credit or HELOCs lately. With interest rates fluctuating and housing markets (particularly in Toronto and Vancouver) experiencing some dramatic shifts, the discussion has been front of mind for many Canadians. 

First, a quick recap: HELOCs are revolving, and typically non-amortized, credit products secured by a lien on the borrower’s residential property. What does that mean? In general terms, it’s a loan that’s backed by the value of your house. HELOC products have been around since the 1970s, and have evolved substantially in that time. 

Today, most HELOCs are sold as a component of readvanceable mortgages, which are a combination of a traditional mortgage and a line of credit. This represents an important shift in both the way HELOCs are sold and how Canadian consumers are financing their home purchases. In practice, readvanceable mortgages now serve as the default option for consumers purchasing a home with a down payment of at least 20 percent. 

Readvanceable mortgages combine HELOCs with amortized mortgages, and in some cases other credit products and banking services, like personal loans, business loans, chequing accounts, overdraft protection, and credit cards, under a global credit limit secured by a collateral charge against the borrower’s property. 

There are approximately 3 million HELOC accounts in Canada, with an average outstanding balance of $70,000. 

Why might you, as a consumer, be interested in HELOCs? They are flexible, have open terms, are affordable and can be customized to suit the needs of individual consumers and mitigate certain risks.

However, as with all products, there are some issues that consumers may encounter that may cause them some difficulties, such as over-borrowing, debt persistence, wealth erosion, and uninformed decision-making.

It is, therefore, important that consumers know their rights and responsibilities. As with any contract, it is the consumer’s responsibility to read and understand the terms and conditions of the agreement, and to ask questions about anything that is not clear to them.

If a consumer feels that a federally regulated financial institution is not respecting their rights, they are encouraged to contact the Financial Consumer Agency of CanadaFind more information about getting a home equity line of credit.

Canada at the top of the charts for financial literacy

As you may have heard, in May, a global report was published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Canada tied for second worldwide for youth financial literacy. It was the first time Canada participated in the financial literacy component of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a global survey of 15-year-olds, which by itself is fantastic news.

It gets better, however. This report was followed by the G20/OECD INFE report on adult financial literacy in G20 countries, released in July. Canadian adults also ranked in the top three countries in the G20 for financial literacy, tied for second with guest country, Norway. 

Canadian adults scored 14.6 out of a possible 21 points (with 7 points for knowledge, 9 for behaviour and 5 for attitudes). The self-assessment portion of the survey showed that Canadians had a strong understanding of key financial concepts such as interest paid on loans, risk and return, and the definition of inflation. 

The survey measured behaviours like budgeting, making ends meet, long-term spending, choosing financial products and institutions, and setting financial goals. 

If you want to brush up on your own financial literacy knowledge, check out FCAC’s services and information section, where you can find information on everything from your rights and responsibilities as a consumer, to debt and borrowing, and planning for the future. You may also be interested in FCAC’s tools, calculators, and education programs, which provide some great ways for you enhance your financial planning and management. 

It’s clear that Canadians agree: financial literacy is a key life skill! 

The value of culture in financial literacy education

As highlighted in an article entitled “Developing the Skills to Face Financial Events in One’s Life” by Helen Bobiwash, CAFM, CPA, CMA, in the Journal of Aboriginal Management, incorporating cultural knowledge and practices into financial literacy education can help make that education more accessible to Indigenous communities. In her article, she explains how familiar cultural references can be used to facilitate the transfer of knowledge.

“The National Aboriginal Financial Literacy Framework is based on a life-cycle approach, as illustrated in the medicine wheel. The medicine wheel is a teaching tool used within Aboriginal communities to illustrate continuity, interconnectedness, and balance. It is consistent with the life cycle approach used by economists to examine consumption patterns and saving behaviours that maintain stable lifestyles. It recognizes events and needs experienced at each stage of life. [Figure 1] illustrates the medicine wheel and the age range of each stage. 

Research indicates that the delivery of financial literacy programs is most effective when the subject is most relevant to the individual. When a person is faced with an event that involves financial decision making, the lessons learned immediately before, during, and after are understood the best. The person is most capable of applying the teachings to their situation.

The east is where the children sit. Children develop basic math skills. They gain an understanding of financial concepts such as currency, saving, purchasing, and borrowing. They may face events such as opening a bank account, getting an odd job, and setting priorities for spending. Children predominantly learn financial literacy from their families.

The south is where the youth sit. Youth are transitioning to independence. They develop a more in-depth understanding of purchasing. They gain an understanding of the cost of living, borrowing, and accessing financial benefits. Youth may face financial events such as getting a mobile phone, moving from home, managing household expenses, pursuing a post-secondary education, applying for a full-time job, becoming a couple, and starting a family. Youth expand their learning sources to include peers, school, and media.

The west is where the adults sit. Adults are responsible for themselves and their family. They develop an in-depth understanding of the cost of supporting a home and family, the costs and consequences of borrowing, and opportunities to invest. They gain an understanding of the need for retirement and insurance. Adults may face financial events such as buying a home, saving for retirement, loss of a job, marriage breakdown, and becoming ill, injured, or disabled. Adults continue to develop their skills through family, peers, school, and media. 

The north is where the elderly sit. Elderly people are transitioning to retirement and their journey to the spirit world. They develop an understanding of living with a reduced income during retirement, the personal costs of ill health or injury, and planning for death. The elderly may face financial events such as retirement and loss of a loved one.”

Figure 1: medicine wheel

Medicine wheel is described in text above. Age ranges are: child, age 0 to 12; youth, age 13 to 25; adult, age 26 to 64; elderly, age 65 and older

Share your news and events

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's newsletter showcases financial literacy initiatives taking place across Canada, in order to promote best practices and spark new initiatives or partnerships that will bring us closer to a more financially literate Canada. 

If you would like to share a financial literacy success story with FCAC, please contact


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