Hon. Peter Harder: Honourable senators, I rise today to bring attention to a matter that has particular relevance as our country navigates the new and challenging economic environment in which we are living. November is Financial Literacy Month, and it carries a special significance this year given the strain so many of our fellow Canadians are currently facing and might be facing over the coming months. It behooves us all to prepare for what many experts predict will be an unsettling period, already marked by inflationary pressures, rising interest rates, high household debts and, perhaps, a challenging job market.
To mark this month and to help cope with the times we find ourselves in, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, or FCAC, has prepared a series of educational tools that will help Canadians build financial resilience in the face of these economic headwinds. This year’s theme is “Make Change that Counts: Managing Your Money in a Changing World.” Throughout the month, the FCAC and its participating organizations across the country will focus on how Canadians can best manage their debt to achieve their financial goals and build financial resilience.
Many Canadian households currently carry high debt burdens, making them especially vulnerable to higher interest rates and increased costs of living. The debt-to-disposable-income ratio in our country is near a record level and among the highest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD.
Over the length of the campaign, Financial Literacy Month will focus on five major themes, which include managing debt, planning for the future and borrowing money wisely. There is no more important a time than now to focus on these issues.
The FCAC has a number of tips that Canadians can use to meet these challenges. If you have constituents wondering about how to adjust their budgets, consolidate high-interest debts or develop strategies to reduce expenses, ask them to visit Canada.ca/financial-literacy-month. There, they will find numerous suggestions on how to adapt and persevere through predictable and unpredictable financial choices, difficulties and the shocks in life.
The financial world is increasingly digital and complicated. Like reading and writing, financial literacy is an essential skill we all need if we wish to make informed decisions. It is a goal that we, as senators, are obliged to promote. I draw this to your attention in the hopes that you will do your part in advancing financial literacy.