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The “minus” in our financial equation. Just how big a problem is financial illiteracy in Canada?

January 19, 2012

Junior Achievement BC  (JA) is a non-profit organization which recognizes that financial literacy is essential in order to develop successful citizens, prosperous businesses and a healthy society. Its target is our youth and it uses creative thinking and hands-on learning to reach them. As one of my goals in this blog is to consider the role of business in connection with all things charitable, I found the business/ non-profit combination in JA to be a fascinating one. It is interesting to see that in its business/teaching modules, JA stresses charity as a significant component of the business process. 

JA recently held its Titan Challenge in which 21 BC high school teams from around BC competed against the clock in an intense, one day event to see who would be the most successful in bringing a futuristic miniature audio player, capable of generating holographic images, to market. The winner was the pictured six-member team from Sir Winston Churchill, Vancouver. More photos here.

Why is it necessary to support financial literacy? According to Statistics Canada (2010), half of adult Canadians struggle with simple tasks involving math and numbers. Statistics Canada’s 2009 Canadian Financial Capability Survey revealed that only 51% of Canadians had a budget and 31% were struggling to pay bills; 48% who were intending to purchase a home had saved less than 5% of the cost and 52% were not expecting to incur any costs other than the down payment; 72% were fairly or very confident that they would have enough retirement income although just 40% had any real idea of how much they would need. We are making decisions that affect us and our families for the rest of our lives without adequate financial knowledge and, if we have so much difficulty coping now, how will we cope in an increasingly financially complex world? Too many of us are getting a failing grade.

A healthy economy requires financially knowledgeable citizens and JA has been making that its mission in BC since 1955. More on the Titan Business Challenge and JA next week.

(Statistical information courtesy of the Task Force on Financial Literacy’s report found at

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Susilawati Bryant permalink
    January 19, 2012 2:58 pm

    Financial Literacy for EFL Adults is also needed. A Dearth of EFL programs in Metro Vancouver is noticeable. Thanks for posting!

    • January 20, 2012 12:04 pm

      Agreed, thanks for commenting. I am also not aware of any easily accessible EFL specific programs in VCR but if anyone knows of some, let me know.

  2. January 19, 2012 10:10 am

    Very interesting. I expect the students were supported by teachers, who may even have put in extra hours of their time. Good for all concerned.

    • January 19, 2012 10:41 am

      Thanks, and you are correct. Many of the teachers involved have been doing this for years because they have seen the value for their students.

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