In SEDI’s recent submission to the Ontario government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation, we strongly encouraged the government to take advantage of a new community approach to reducing poverty called Financial Empowerment.
Designed to be integrated into and/or complement more traditional poverty reduction strategies, Financial Empowerment interventions specifically target the underlying financial issues that many people living on low-incomes face and that impede their efforts to move out of poverty. These approaches fall into 5 main categories and are mainly delivered at the community level:
1. Financial information, education and counselling
2. Help accessing income boosting benefits and tax credits
3. Access to safe and affordable financial products and services
4. Access to savings and asset building opportunities
5. Consumer awareness and protection.
The Financial Empowerment approach is tested and proven
Evidence from a wide range of scaled programs put in place by U.S. cities, reinforced by grassroots experience here in Canada, shows conclusively that Financial Empowerment approaches can help to measurably advance the Government of Ontario’s poverty reduction objectives, as well as other important goals such as increasing employment, encouraging savings for retirement and post-secondary education, and reducing health care and social service costs.
While the Ontario government is still facing tight budget constraints, Financial Empowerment approaches offer an opportunity to invest modestly in a range of promising poverty reduction initiatives that can be:
• Scaled immediately at low cost using technology-based approaches
• Integrated inexpensively into existing programs to improve outcomes
• Cost shared with other partners and leverage volunteer resources; or
• Piloted and scaled up gradually as more resources become available.
Read our full submission here.
Be a part of the Financial Empowerment movement in Canada
Are you interested in learning more? Read our brief, Financial Empowerment: Improving financial outcomes for low-income households.
To build Financial Empowerment capacity or pilot test interventions in your community, contact:
Elodie Young, SEDI Program Development Officer via email or by phone at 416.665.2828 ext. 225.
Elizabeth Mulholland has been engaged in social policy making for over 30 years, including as a senior policy advisor to Prime Minister Jean Chretien. She is now the CEO of Prosper Canada.