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Strengthening Community ties through the Financial Empowerment program
31 March 2023
Prosper Canada is excited to announce that the
Toronto Public Library Foundation
(TPLF), an organization that raises funds that help amplify and accelerate the exceptional work that TPL does, has committed to funding the pilot for the Financial Empowerment (FE) program for 2023 and 2024. In recognition of the importance of this program in providing customized financial support for Torontonians, the City of Toronto has confirmed its commitments which will commence in 2025, following the two year support of TPLF. The confirmed funding is $0.248 million annually. Outside of these funders, the FE program is also funded by, supported and delivered in partnership by
North York Community House
About the Financial Empowerment Service program
The FE program, developed in partnership with Prosper Canada, is a poverty reduction strategy initiative that aims to provide services to vulnerable populations, particularly those with low income. This includes individuals with disabilities, homeless or under-housed families, Black and racialized individuals, Indigenous Peoples, immigrants, refugees, undocumented individuals, and vulnerable youth and seniors living in poverty.
The FE program offers one-on-one, personalized support from community agency experts who provide in-depth counselling on financial topics such as tax filing, savings, debit, credit cards, and budgeting. This service is available in City of Toronto’s library branches and will include access to curated online resources, as well as opportunities to engage with library staff and partner agencies for additional support.
Since its inception, the FE program has served over 220 unique clients through customized one-on-one support provided by FE counsellors from Woodgreen and NYCH. Additionally, the program has offered five in-person information sessions covering topics such as financial empowerment, benefits access, expenses, and debt management.
What this means for communities
The FE program and the invaluable support provided by its counsellors to vulnerable community members cannot be overstated. One remarkable example is that of a single mother and her young daughter who arrived in Canada as refugee claimants and later became Protected Persons. With Ontario Works as her only source of income, the mother was not familiar with filing income tax in Canada or the related benefits until she met an FE counsellor at a Toronto Public Library branch.
The FE counsellor helped her file her taxes and complete the necessary application for Child Care Benefits. They also explained the details of other federal and provincial benefits, including GST, OTB, Climate Action Incentive, and one-time housing benefits. In addition to this crucial financial support, the mother registered for a library card and signed up for children’s programs after her session with the FE counsellor thus proving the trust that was built.
Stories like these highlight the importance of continuing programs like FE and strengthening the ties between all parties involved. This joint effort between Toronto Public Library, Toronto Public Library Foundation, the City of Toronto and Prosper Canada underscores the significance of collaboration and partnership in achieving meaningful outcomes for the benefit of low income communities within the region.