Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Harper Budget & Financial Literacy

In the midst of the kerfuffle over the federal budget that was tabled on Tuesday (a kerfuffle that may dissolve parliament and turn the 352-page budget into a door-stop) it may seem fruitless to worry over the contents of those 352 pages. And for the most part it may be, except for one thing that really matters to people who are determined to help Canadians get smarter about money: does the federal government have the desire to spend money on financial literacy in 2011-2012?

You already know that I'm one of those "people" and so it will be no surprise that as soon as the budget was available online that I poured through the table of contents looking for anything to do with financial literacy, particularly the thirty recommendations made by the Task Force for Financial Literacy in their report, Canadians and Their Money, published on February 9, 2011.

I found what I was looking for in the first chapter, "Supporting Job Creation," under the subheading "Maintaining Canada's Financial Sector Advantage." On page 87 you will find the following statement under the title, "Enhancing Financial Literacy."
With the growing use of financial services by consumers, the importance of ensuring that Canadians have the tools and knowledge to be confident in their financial decisions cannot be overstated. The Government has received the recommendations of the Task Force on Financial Literacy, and it commends the important work that was done in support of this goal. As a first step, the Government is announcing that a Financial Literacy Leader will soon be appointed to promote national efforts, and is providing funding to advance financial literacy initiatives.

Budget 2011 proposes to provide $3 million per year, in addition to the $2 million per year already provided to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, to undertake financial literacy initiatives. Improving financial literacy is a long-term goal and a shared responsibility that requires all partners to work collaboratively to leverage the excellent efforts now underway across the country.
I realize that it's the Children's Arts Tax Credit that's supposed to get me all excited as a parent, however I find these two little paragraphs on page 87 much more stimulating as I do believe that by investing in the financial literacy of children and families today, we can improve the economic well-being of future generations.

While politicking is going to dominate budget news in the coming weeks, take a moment to do a little happy dance with me about the government's desire to appointment of a Financial Literacy Leader and to spend an additional $3 million per year on financial literacy. Whatever happens in Ottawa, it is a positive first step towards a more economically fit Canada.

Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
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