Since October 2018, the Financial Empowerment Network of Nova Scotia (FENNS) has worked to raise the levels of financial empowerment and financial literacy across Nova Scotia. Representing a broad spectrum of public, private and non-profit sector groups, we bring together organizations working to increase financial understanding with organizations whose work is directly affected by that lack of understanding. Each member organization has their own mandate, but collectively the network works to:
Make existing financial resources more accessible
Identify gaps related to financial empowerment
Cross-promote resources, events and programs
Share best practices
The need for the network is greater than ever, as 2020 continues to cause financial strain and insecurity for many Nova Scotians. As a network, we have continued our work of wide information sharing and cross-promotion of events, programs, services, and campaigns. As a result of COVID-19, the network and its members have needed to digitize outreach, program, operational and service delivery initiatives and move to remote meetings and digital outreach strategies to best serve Nova Scotians.
As an example, Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia has worked with its stakeholders and Deloitte to reinvent its program delivery model. Their Back to Learning Plan for 2020-21 has enabled them to modernize programs, streamline volunteers’ experiences, increase the team’s skills and improve access to their programming. They have now delivered 82 classes to 1,705 students. Similarly, the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) has implemented a remote model for connecting and supporting incoming new Canadians before arriving, giving them a leg-up in their immigration journey.
At the YMCA Financial Literacy for Newcomers Program and the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), staff and volunteers are continuing to work with Nova Scotians to provide 2019 income tax filing support for those who have not yet filed, helping them avoid losing government benefits based on tax filings. During the 2020 tax season, the network participated in two income tax super clinics, with our corresponding #TaxTimeNS Twitter campaign receiving 43,000 impressions. In addition to that, the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) held 16 workshops to support newcomers and federal refugee clients in tax filing and Nova Scotia’s Department of Community Services took in 327 Canada Learning Bond applications to help Nova Scotians save for post-secondary education. The disruption of COVID-19 on planned tax time events demonstrated the need for a revised approach to financial empowerment education and outreach.
Network members coordinated efforts to reach students entering an uncertain school year. The Nova Scotia Securities Commission delivered more than 20 virtual presentations to high schools and universities to share good practices and tips for investing. This year, we expanded our reach into consumer insurance issues with the support of the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. We also marked the 10th
anniversary of Financial Literacy Month with virtual events and an extensive social media campaign.
As we look ahead to 2021, we will continue to support tax filing, expand our remote outreach efforts, and support financial literacy within the digital marketplace. We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish with our partnership as we enter our third year and adjust to meet the evolving needs of Nova Scotians.
The Financial Empowerment Network of Nova Scotia (FENNS) aim is to raise the levels of financial empowerment (FE) and financial literacy (FL) across the province by promoting resources and problem solving as a network.
Lindsay Visser is a Policy and Research Analyst with Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services, Government of Nova Scotia. She chairs the Financial Empowerment Network of Nova Scotia.