The Task Force began a busy week, first thing this morning, with public consultation sessions in both Montreal and Toronto. Members of the Task Force are splitting up this week, holding sessions in Moncton, Halifax, Charlottetown, St John’s and – in the north – in Whitehorse and Iqaluit. I encourage you to attend when we convene in your community, and details can be found on www.financialliteracyinCanada.com.
I would also remind you of the April 30 deadline for providing the Task Force with written submissions; details are also available on our website.
Two themes emerged from presenters today.
The first concerns the challenge of making financial literacy education interesting or compelling to the people who would benefit from it. We heard that, despite the widespread perception that traditional “financial literacy is boring,” there are many ways to make financial literacy real, interesting and engaging through peer-to-peer programming, advanced technology, real life stories and experiential learning.
In this vein, Alan Lysaght, co-producer of the ABC Guys series of books on financial management, said, “What really engages kids are stories.” Ellen Roseman, who was speaking in a personal capacity, not in her role as personal finance and consumer affairs columnist for the Toronto Star, said, “How do you get it across to people? Act it out,” suggesting compelling TV and radio commercials.
Ms. Roseman also recommended that financial literacy be expanded to include “consumer literacy,” to educate consumers on inappropriate spending, signing contracts they don’t understand, and the need to get financial advice.
A second common theme, covered by several presenters, focused on the importance of basic life values over the accumulation of material possessions. The Financial Post’s Jonathan Chevreau neatly summed up his formula for financial independence: “Freedom, not stuff.”
I will correspond with you again tomorrow from Halifax.
Chair, Task Force on Financial Literacy