Last week the government announced it has finally got around to appointing this country’s first-ever financial literacy leader, fulfilling a long-time wish of many financial advisors to address financial literacy in this country.
Minister of State Kevin Sorenson announced Jane Rooney will be Canada’s first-ever financial literacy leader. Commenting on the appointment, the CEO of Sun Life Financial, Donald Stewart, had this to say: “Financial literacy is critical to the prosperity of Canadians and the nation…Increasing the knowledge, skills and confidence of Canadians to make responsible financial decisions will help them meet their personal goals, enhance their quality of life and make Canada more competitive.”
The announcement is the first recommendation of the Task Force on Financial Literacy established through the Financial Literacy Leader Act in March 2013. Stewart headed up the Task Force.
Before being appointed Financial Literacy Leader, Ms. Rooney was the Director of Financial Literacy and Consumer Education with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. In her new position she will lead the implementation of the national strategy on financial literacy.
The report that led to the creation of the position calls for a joint effort among “individuals, families, governments, educators, financial services providers, employers, labour organizations, businesses and voluntary organizations” to foster better financial literacy.
Over the past 18 months, the task force found there is no shortage of financial education available to Canadians, but the “uptake of these offerings remains low.”
As a way of improving financial literacy the task force recommends the creation of a single source website that will consolidate financial information and programs. The website will include self-assessment tools, retirement calculators and will be written in “plain language” to avoid confusing the public.
The report called on the federal government to act as a leader in financial education to “ensure all Canadians had access to the skills development tools that will allow them to make informed decisions…Urgent action is needed to improve the financial literacy of Canadians, as individuals must increasingly take responsibility for their own future,” according to a press release announcing the appointment.