Message from Donald A. Stewart, Chair of the Task Force on Financial Literacy

September 18, 2009

Welcome to the website for Canada’s Task Force on Financial Literacy.

Our mandate from the Government of Canada is a challenging one – to make recommendations to the Minister of Finance by December 2010 on a national strategy to strengthen financial literacy in Canada.

To start, the Task Force is reviewing international developments as well as the Canadian experience. To capitalize on the knowledge we bring from academia, business, community organizations, education, media and the voluntary sector, we have been working in small teams. This efficiently builds on members’ strengths. Each of our four working groups is focusing on a set of highly relevant issues and reporting back to the Task Force as a whole. This structure will allow us to more effectively reach out to the many participants and stakeholders in Canada who already play vital roles in the area of financial literacy.

We are currently examining:

  • Foundations - matters related to curricula and basic financial education;
  • Savings - issues, products and services related to saving and investing;
  • Borrowing - issues, products and services related to credit and debt;
  • National Progress - how to evaluate a national strategy and measure its advancement.

Our groups are making headway, with each clarifying for the others key concerns and questions. While the categories are broad, they still do not cover all the areas the Task Force will explore. One of our challenges is to recommend a framework for collaboration so all those involved in financial literacy can work effectively together. We are also looking at exciting new areas to supplement existing initiatives. While there is significant international experience to draw on, our shared objective is to adapt findings to create a “made in Canada, for Canadians” solution.

In order to succeed, we need your help. Our final report must reflect the thoughts and values of Canadians from every region and from all walks of life. It must be grounded by the needs of individuals and families as they take on the financial decisions that will help them achieve financial security throughout their lives.

The Task Force is now developing a consultation process that covers all aspects of our mandate. Our consultation document will serve to start a national conversation on financial literacy. It will include themes such as:

  • building a foundation for young Canadians to become financially literate;
  • understanding how people arrive at important financial decisions in their lives (e.g. buying or renovating their home, saving for education, setting aside emergency funds, etc.) and developing better tools for them to make those decisions;
  • exploring how people plan and save for a comfortable retirement; and
  • understanding the evolving role of technology in helping people make better, more informed financial choices.

This thought-provoking consultation document will be published and made available by early in 2010 so that you can review it, respond to questions or prepare submissions.

In the spring of 2010, the Task Force will host public consultations across Canada to obtain feedback and to ensure that our final recommendations reflect your ideas and values. Not everyone, of course, will have a chance to attend these meetings in person and provide their feedback directly. We are exploring additional means to gain insight from Canadians such as online participation.

In exploring this website to learn more about the mandate of the Task Force and about the need for this initiative, we hope that you will be inspired to join us in this important work.

Let me take this opportunity to thank those who have already contacted the Task Force on Financial Literacy and to encourage all interested Canadians to do the same.

Sincerely,

Donald A. Stewart
Chair
Task Force on Financial Literacy