Prosper Canada launches Prosperity Gateways – A poverty reduction game changer

30 May 2019
TORONTO (May 30, 2019) – National charity, Prosper Canada launched the Prosperity Gateways - Cities for Financial Empowerment, a new initiative to help cities combat poverty through financial empowerment.  
 
Launched with the City of Edmonton and City of Toronto, the first two cities to join the initiative, Prosperity Gateways - Cities for Financial Empowerment helps city governments reduce poverty by building financial help into city services used by residents with low incomes. Financial help includes education, coaching/counselling, free tax clinics, and help accessing income benefits. Research shows that building these supports into services like community housing, homeless shelters, social assistance and employment programs has a ‘super vitamin’ effect – measurably improving service outcomes, as well as the incomes and financial health of residents. 
 
“Financial empowerment interventions can help people to boost their incomes, build emergency savings, pay down debt, and build their financial skills,” said Elizabeth Mulholland, CEO of Prosper Canada. “Right now, this kind of financial help is often unavailable or tenuously funded. Permanently building these supports into city services means people with low incomes will be able to get free, high quality, financial help when they need it and that this help will be here to stay.” 
 
Canadians report that their personal finances are the primary cause of stress in their lives. This is reflected in record high household debt, historically low savings levels, and rising debt delinquency and bankruptcies. Despite this, people with low incomes have few trusted places they can turn when they need help to: 
 
  • build their financial knowledge and skills; 
  • deal with urgent financial problems, set financial goals and build a plan to achieve them; 
  • tax file and access income benefits they may be missing out on; 
  • access safe and affordable financial products and services;  
  • save and access opportunities to build their assets; and/or 
  • protect themselves against fraud and financial abuse. 
Financial empowerment can be a game changer for municipal poverty reduction efforts. In just over three years, nonprofit financial empowerment pilots in 14 communities across Canada have already helped over 290,000 people with low incomes to build their financial health and increased the incomes of 109,000 of these individuals by over $305 million dollars.  
 
 “Every Edmontonian deserves a life of dignity, opportunity and the ability to achieve prosperity in our vibrant city. This important partnership recognizes that no one should be left behind, and with the right kind of financial interventions, all Edmontonians can participate fully in our economy and invest in their futures,” said Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton. 
 
“Providing financial literacy assistance to low-income people better positions them to thrive and prosper in our city and have access to equal opportunities. When residents of Toronto feel financially empowered, they are able to make sound decisions for themselves and their families and help plan their future,” said, Mayor John Tory. 
 
Through the leadership of Mayor Don Iveson and Mayor John Tory, Edmonton and Toronto are tackling poverty head on and building new pathways to prosperity for low-income residents. Their trailblazing efforts highlight the opportunity for all cities – and governments more broadly – to transform municipal services into Prosperity Gateways that reduce poverty and build opportunity for everyone. 
 
In Toronto, Prosperity Gateways will be implemented through the City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Office with Toronto Public Library as the service development and delivery partner. 
 
To learn more about Prosperity Gateways - Cities for financial empowerment, visit: prospercanada.org/Gateways. Prosper Canada’s Prosperity Gateways initiative is generously supported by the Maytree Foundation, TD Bank Group, and the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program. 

Media contact: 
Julie McFayden 
Prosper Canada 
416-665-2828 ext. 2231