Set­ting up new cana­di­ans for fi­nan­cial suc­cess

Pro­gram helps new­com­ers with fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy

Metro Canada (Halifax) - - METRO SPECIAL REPORT: FINANCIAL LITERACY - Ethan Rot­berg

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

Is­tock

The fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy for New­com­ers pro­gram pro­vides sup­port and ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram­ming in ar­eas like bud­get­ing, sav­ings and credit.

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