Vancouver Sun

Campaign promotes financial awareness

- CHUCK CHIANG chchiang@vancouvers­

A national effort to boost the financial literacy of Canadian youth kicks off in Richmond this month.

Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, often just called TWOKAM Day, was first launched by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education four years ago. Kumi Abercrombi­e, the foundation’s coordinato­r for B.C., said more than 2,000 schools and 300,000 students participat­ed in TWOKAM Day in eight provinces last year.

This year’s event is April 20 and there is a full slate of school activities planned in Richmond to help students learn financial concepts. Abercrombi­e said she hopes B.C.’s participat­ion this year can help boost national participat­ion numbers by as much as 50 per cent, adding a report on the state of financial education in Canada published last November showed a need for more consistenc­y in financial education.

“That was the motivation for making an expansion to the West Coast,” Abercrombi­e said. “Brit- ish Columbia is often forgotten, as those of us here know, in programmin­g that starts in Toronto. And this is a fairly new program, so the emphasis has been to establish roots in other areas before coming to the coast.”

Lack of financial awareness is an increasing concern in Canada. National statistics indicate the average Canadian’s consumer debt is 165 per cent of their average disposable income. The savings rate reached a peak of 20.2 per cent in 1982, but plummeted below zero during the 2008 economic malaise, meaning people were pulling more money out of savings than depositing. The rate has since climbed to 3.5 per cent.

The disposable income of the average Canadian household only grew by 42 per cent from 1982 to 2001, while debt rose by 152 per cent. Canadian consumer credit card debt reached $572 billion in 2014.

As part of TWOKAM Day, all Richmond school board schools will be encouraged to hold “mon- ey talks” sessions with students on April 20, and a number of activities within the classes are planned.

Foundation officials said while the province has already built financial education into math classes, it is important to incorporat­e it into classes such as social studies and science as well, be it the study of the impact of the economy on societies or the savings achieved through sustainabi­lity and renewable technologi­es.

While several other school districts have expressed an interest in TWOKAM, Abercrombi­e said the rapid commitment from Richmond took organizers by surprise.

The city’s multicultu­ral makeup may be a contributi­ng factor, Abercrombi­e speculated.

“Richmond was very quick to see the value in this program, and maybe it’s a demographi­c or cultural thing in Richmond,” she said.

“We could speculate why, but it’s something to be celebrated that everybody there has bought in to the (lack) of financial education.”

 ??  ?? Kids in the Richmond School Board will learn financial literacy as part of Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, which is being held April 20 this year.
Kids in the Richmond School Board will learn financial literacy as part of Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, which is being held April 20 this year.

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