Moving to a new country can be highly stressful. That’s why our member, Credit Canada, developed the Newcomers and Money 101 program. Newcomers and Money 101 takes into account that language and customs are often very different for newcomers to Canada. Methods for handling money and credit can all be strangely unfamiliar. Let’s face it, being a newcomer can be down right overwhelming. Newcomers who don’t know how to manage money and finances in their new home country quickly face financial difficulty.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance
2016 Census figures show that a total of 472,170 immigrants arrived in Ontario between 2011 and 2016. In 2017, 111,925 permanent residents arrived in Ontario on their own. Looking ahead to 2021, Canada could see as many as one million newcomer arrivals. We believe it’s important for newcomers and their families to have the resources and skills needed to be financially empowered. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
A recent report presented by Option Consommateurs paints a stark picture. The study noted that newcomers are acquiring credit with very little understanding of what this actually involves. Besides this, the report found that newcomers would best be served if education organizations — who are not trying to sell specific financial products — could reach out to them before they take on credit.
With support from the Ontario Government
Credit Canada has developed a Newcomers and Money 101 workshop that aims to do exactly that. The program helps newcomers to Ontario better understand how to manage their money and credit in Canada. The workshop is offered at no charge to participants. It includes a PowerPoint presentation (in English) as well as an accompanying booklet available in six different languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Punjabi and Farsi.
Newcomers and Money 101 participants will learn about:
- The Canadian banking system
- Money management and budgeting
- Handling and building credit
- Fraud prevention
1. The Canadian Banking System
It’s especially important for newcomers to learn how our banking system works. Newcomers should know that our financial institutions are well-regulated and that deposits are insured by the government so they will feel secure. First, Newcomers and Money 101 explains how Canada’s banking institutions and credit unions work. It describes why they are safe and secure places to save money. This may be an unknown concept for some newcomers, depending on their country of origin. Second, Newcomers and Money 101 looks at the different types of accounts available, and the various services offered by banking institutions, such as overdraft protection, safety deposit boxes, etc.
Workshop participants also learn about the various investment options available. Reviewing the options shows how newcomers can save money to meet future needs and goals with:
- RESPs – Registered Education Savings Plans
- RRSPs – Registered Retirement Savings Plans
- RDSPs – Registered Disability Savings Plans
- TFSAs – Tax-Free Savings Accounts
2. Money management and budgeting
By participating in our workshop, newcomers receive an in-depth overview of money management and budgeting. Attendees are given key tools to assist them with the budgeting process, including how to set practical financial goals.
3. Handling and building credit
Managing credit well is a crucial skill for every newcomer to have. It’s the basis for building a financially stable life in Canada. When you consider that many newcomers are offered credit almost before they leave the airport terminal, it is easy to see the potential hazards.
In Newcomers and Money 101, participants learn about different types of credit products. They also learn about the importance of choosing the right one(s) for their needs. The program includes information about credit ratings and credit scores, and the importance of creating and maintaining a positive credit record. Furthermore, it explains how newcomers can keep their credit in good standing, and how to deal with any credit problems. Participants come away knowing that credit is a very useful tool when properly managed, but that it also has risks.
4. Preventing Fraud
Fraud is one of the fastest growing problems in Canada. In fact, fraud costs Canada millions of dollars every year. Sadly, fraudsters often target newcomers due to their inexperience with the Canadian financial landscape. The good news is that education is the best prevention against fraud – and Newcomers and Money 101 is making a big difference.
The feedback from Newcomers and Money 101 attendees and instructors is terrific. Many participants lose no time in acting right away, going to their bank to open a new account that better suits their short and long-term needs.
They say knowledge is power. Armed with the valuable information shared through the Newcomers and Money 101, newcomers are able to make better informed decisions. The goal is to reach as many newcomers with the program as possible this year. Accredited Credit Counselling Canada members can play a pivotal role in helping to do just that.
Newcomers and Money 101 is run by trained leaders and hosted by community groups and organizations who work with newcomers. If your agency or organization would like to host a workshop within your community, let Credit Canada know. All program materials will be provided, including participant booklets. For more information, please contact Elena Jara, Credit Canada Director of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sandra Sherk at email@example.com.
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Submitted by: Sandra Sherk, Credit Canada Debt Solutions