In the Media: NDP voted against C-28 because it doesn't address financial literacy
The Hill Times, 30 July 2012
Re: "Feds trying to improve financial literacy in Canada", (The Hill Times, 23 July 2012, p. 13)
Just like this government's approach to financial literacy in general, Conservative MP Shelley Glover's op-ed on the subject is big on spin and short on facts. She invited us to explain why we voted against C-28, the government bill to create a Financial Literacy Leader; we are more than happy to do so.
The NDP voted against Bill C-28 because it doesn't address financial literacy and is a diversion from the real issues that affect Canadians' wallets: a lack of jobs, stagnating wages, and consumer and small business bank regulations that do not recognize the realities of the 21st century economy. These are the issues the NDP wants to tackle in order to make a real difference for Canadians.
Glover points out that the first recommendation of the financial literacy taskforce was the creation of a financial literacy leader. What she fails to mention is that it also recommends an advisory council, composed of a diverse group of stakeholders with an interest in financial literacy, to provide advice to the financial literacy leader on the implementation and evolution of hte national strategy. Specifically, the taskforce lists educators, the voluntary sector, and labour organizations as groups who should be included in the advisory council alongside government and financial providers.
Bill C-28 excluded these very important recommendations and only created the financial literacy leader position, making C-28 more of an expensive job posting, rather than a bill addressing the need for in-depth financial literacy. Without these key recommendations, the financial literacy leader could become nothing more than a cheerleader for new financial products that benefit the banks, not Canadians. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada already does financial literacy programming and with more funding it would have greater impact.
Adding further concern, Bill C-28 is missing a definition of what is meant by financial literacy - the very thing it's meant to be trying to improve. Without a definition and without an advisory council, this financial literacy leader is like a ship without a sail. Without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is what it will cost to create this position, this government could simplify bank and credit card contracts and improve access to adult literacy and numeracy programs. In our opinion, that would have a much larger effect on Canadians' understanding of their day-to-day banking, and at a much lower cost.
Peggy Nash, NDP Finance Critic, Parkdale-High Park, ON
Glenn Thibeault, NDP Consumer