Last week I spent a couple of days at an international conference on financial literacy here in Toronto. Hosted by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) and the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), the two-day event had speakers from around the world sharing their experiences with financial education in their respective countries.
Raising levels of financial know-how in Canada is a big priority at the Federal level – in fact, we had a national Task Force in Financial Literacy make recommendations on how to make this country more money smart – and on June 6 the feds will name a leader who will help turn those recommendations into a plan of action.
And it’s about time – according to L. Jacques Ménard who gave the opening speech there are some major gaps in the financial literacy levels of Canadians. Below are five reasons I think we need a national strategy to improve financial literacy in Canada – they’re based on statistics Ménard shared in his speech.
- Forty-nine percent of Canadians don’t have a household budget.
- Sixty-nine percent of us have never requested a credit report.
- Fifty-seven percent don’t seek out financial advice.
- Thirty-one percent of Canadians are struggling to keep up with the bills
- Forty-eight percent of Canadians who are planning to buy a new home have saved less than five percent of the costs – sixty-seven percent have saved less than ten percent.
I really hope a national strategy will make a difference – at the very least, we should have basic concepts such as compound interest and budgeting taught in math classes as early as possible. If you have any recommendations for how to make Canadians more knowledgeable about money please share them below!