Setting up new canadians for financial success
Program helps newcomers with financial literacy
The number of immigrants to Atlantic Canada has tripled since 2002, according to a report from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. Immigration has played a key part in Canada’s population growth and economic prosperity.
The majority of newcomers tend to settle in large urban centres like Halifax. In their early years in Canada, newcomers have to make many decisions about finances, while still learning to navigate a new country’s financial, legal and tax systems. While some are able to do so easily, others face barriers as they attempt to access information and services.
This is where the YWCA Halifax can offer a helping hand. The Financial Literacy for Newcomers Program provides support and educational programming in areas like budgeting, savings and credit and helping new Canadians navigate Canada’s financial system.
Lauren Hutton, YWCA coordinator for the Financial Literacy for Newcomers Program, has been running the program for about a year. She says the main goal of the workshops is to help people build skills.
“We work on things like budgeting, smart shopping, and even just developing an understanding of our own relationship with money.
“Its not going to make someone an expert in financial literacy but it will give them the tools to know when they need help with something or know where to go to get help, and to use that knowledge responsibly,” Hutton said.
The program is available to anyone who is a newcomer to Canada, including both women and men — though they do offer workshops specifically to women as they may face additional barriers in a new country.
Hutton added that building credit can be one of the biggest challenges when coming to a new country.
“The way we use money here might be different than the way they used money there,” she said. “Canada is very credit focused in a way that many countries are not. You don’t have established Canadian credit — so how do you build that so that eventually you do have the credit to buy a car, or buy a home, or send your child to university.”
Having the skills to navigate Canada’s financial system can be key to the settlement and integration experience.
“Settling in a new country has to do with relationships — and building a relationship with a bank is the big one,” Hutton said.
it will give them the tools to know when they need help with something or know where to go to get help... Lauren Hutton, YWCA coordinator
The financial literacy for Newcomers program provides support and educational programming in areas like budgeting, savings and credit.