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We are turning a corner, but our work is not done

20 April 2022
In April 2020, Prosper Canada reset its priorities to focus on helping people with low incomes to safely weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing that vulnerable Canadians would bear both the brunt of the disease and its devastating impacts on livelihoods and financial security, we set out to mobilize $20 million to sustain and expand financial help services to help the vulnerable households across Canada. 

Two years later, we are writing to thank all of our community, financial sector, foundation, and government supporters for your extraordinary response.  With your help, we exceeded our goal, raising $9.14M in direct funding and catalysing a four-year estimated federal investment of over $15M for community financial empowerment services nationally. 

Thanks to your help, we and our partners have been able to provide financial help to 221,877 people with low incomes, assisting them to tax file, successfully navigate urgently needed income benefits and pandemic relief, and begin rebuilding their financial stability and health.

Our job is not done!

Pandemic challenges, long-term systemic and institutional barriers, and personal circumstances continue to prevent vulnerable Canadians who need financial help the most from finding it. Without this help, many Canadians will continue to see their financial situation deteriorate and to be sidelined in Canada’s economic recovery, leading to even greater economic disparities, particularly for Indigenous and racialized communities. 
 
The time to invest in a strong recovery for everyone in Canada is now. Working together, we can remove barriers, create real pathways to prosperity for Canadians with low incomes, strengthen the financial trajectory of Canadian households, and build more resilient communities – but we need your help.  

We are seeking new partners, funders and allies to join us in building the investment, solutions and delivery capacity that will ensure every Canadian has the opportunity to build their financial well-being. 

In 2 years, with a growing array of committed government, business, philanthropic and community partners across Canada, we have been able to:

  • Provide 102,961 vulnerable Canadians with community financial education, coaching, tax filing and benefit services
  • Design and deliver virtual and hybrid tax-filing help to 54,502 of these individuals despite lockdowns, boosting their incomes by $316 million 
  • Quickly develop and roll-out technology tools (Financial Relief Navigator and Benefits Wayfinder) enabling 110,124 individuals to identify all the relief they are eligible for and how to access it
  • Provide 8,792 people with financial self-help resources through our Trove portal
  • Help 5 pilot municipalities begin building free financial help services into city-wide welfare, transit, recreation, and library programs 
  • Catalyze federal action to prevent loss of benefits for people unable to tax file on time 
  • Successfully advocate to restore lost federal benefits to low-income seniors who received pandemic relief.
Transformative change is the work of many hands and minds and we have benefited from the deep expertise and limitless generosity of individuals and organizations from every sector who have educated us, corrected our errors, shared their ideas, improved ours, and leant us their time, talent, and voices.  Yours are the shoulders we continue to stand on as we look to the next phase of our work.

Today, Canadians are increasingly hopeful that we are turning a corner, but the financial impact of the pandemic on households is still unfolding.

Since 2018, the number of lower income households has grown from 4.6 million to 6.75 million, with most not yet participating in Canada’s economic recovery. In June 2021, 65 per cent reported experiencing significant financial hardship and 40 per cent were unable to meet essential expenses, compared to 55 and 30 per cent respectively a year earlier. 

While CERB and CRB payments temporarily boosted the incomes of many people with low incomes, they also negatively impacted some low- and moderate-income households’ eligibility for other benefits they depend on to make ends meet, leaving them worse off financially than before.  

Community financial help organizations that swiftly adapted their services to support Canadians through the pandemic are now struggling to find resources to sustain their work in the longer term, despite clear evidence of increased need and demonstrated impact. Without sustained investment, pilot community financial help services that were measurably improving the financial health of 100,000+ vulnerable Canadians annually before the pandemic, will disappear. 

Canada is at an inflection point.

If we let the socio-economic fault lines exposed by the COVID pandemic to grow, they will hinder Canada’s economic growth, erode social cohesion, and render us less resilient as a society to future shocks from other pandemics, climate emergencies, and changes in the global economy. 

Instead, we can collectively seize this moment to recommit to a more inclusive and equitable future and, together, tackle the growing disparities in our society.  This means engaging and committing to allyship with equity-seeking populations, deepening our understanding of systemic drivers of disparity, exploring the unique levers that every sector holds when it comes to tackling institutional and systemic barriers to opportunity, and committing to shared solutions that build greater resilience and prosperity for all Canadians.
 
It's time to act!

Prosper Canada is seeking partners from all sectors to pursuing the following goals to achieve a more equitable and inclusive economic recovery and future for Canada:

  1. Generate and share new knowledge and insights on the drivers of household financial vulnerability and effective solutions in Canada;
  2. Partner with Indigenous and racialized organizations and communities to develop, test and deliver effective financial wellness tools, resources and services appropriate to their cultures, contexts and needs.
  3. Develop and promote effective “upstream” policy, tax, and regulatory solutions that remove barriers to financial wellbeing for low-income and vulnerable Canadians;
  4. Foster sustained investment in community financial empowerment services to fill the gap in quality, affordable and relevant financial help for people with low incomes; 
  5. Transform more large-scale service systems that low-income people rely on into “Prosperity Gateways” that build the financial health of service users; 
  6. Harness technology to achieve greater sustainability, scale and impact – reaching more equity-seeking, rural and remote communities, equipping financial help providers to become even more effective, and empowering consumers to take action to build their financial health. 
Please join us in helping to ensure that every Canadians has the financial policies, programs, products, and services they need to build a brighter financial future. 

For more information contact us at [email protected] to learn more about our vision and how you can help.