It’s not often that our elected representatives unanimously agree on any matter of public policy, so when that unlikely event happens, it’s worth taking notice.
Such is the case with a Motion introduced in Parliament earlier this month during Private Members’ Business. In summary, Motion 2-69 calls on the federal government to undertake a variety of measures to improve the financial literacy of Canadians.
Financial literacy is one of those issues that brings Parliamentarians of all stripes under the same tent, and a we saw a rare moment of unity. The transcripts show that Peter Julian (Burnaby—West Minister, NDP), Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.), Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC), Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NDP), Chungsen Leung (Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, CPC) and James Rajotte (Edmonton—Leduc, CPC) all declared their approval for improving Canadians’ financial literacy.
The statement of the day was an observation from MP James Rajotte: “What has been driven home to me in discussing it [financial literacy] with people is that there is a lot of effort being made out there and a lot of outstanding work, but there is a lot of duplication and overlap.”
I agree. Completely.
There is a lot happening, and we see evidence beyond this discussion of commitment, good will and energy. But when you look across Canada, our efforts are piecemeal and scattered. We’re limiting the potential benefits available from co-ordinated efforts, and there are too many cracks that people will fall through.
Perhaps that is why it is so puzzling that the appointment of Canada’s financial literacy czar has yet to be declared. Based on all credible information, I had genuinely believed the announcement would be imminent, and said so in my posting of January 31st.
Our parliamentarians are clearly behind the concept. But during this session, they spoke about the financial literacy head in the future tense. Behind the scenes, much may be happening, but there’s still no public face and without one, we can’t advance.
It definitely is a pity – particularly because we’re in the midst of Fraud Prevention Month. It would have been great to have the “Financial Literacy Czar” in place during events like this to take the opportunity to help shine a bright spotlight on these issues. The Investor Education Fund has certainly sought to do its part for Ontarians: if you haven’t visited the Preventing Fraud section of this website, now is an opportune time to do so.
The appointment of a well-funded, experienced leader with a national presence is an important next step, and everyone in Parliament and on Main Street seems to agree. So let’s get started now – the job is a huge one and it isn’t getting smaller. That’s my take: What’s yours?