Financial Literacy FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Financial Literacy

Q: How did the Financial Literacy strategy get started?

A: In November 2007, United Way Toronto released Losing Ground: the Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City. This report identified that many individuals living in poverty lack basic financial information and, as a result, make poor financial decisions. These findings have prompted United Way Toronto to take action and develop new resources for financial literacy programs targeting low-income people across the city.

Q: How will the Financial Literacy strategy help low-income individuals?

A: By working in a coordinated fashion, the Financial Literacy strategy will help low-income individuals in the following ways.

  • Build their financial knowledge, skills and confidence through access to appropriate financial information, education, resources, and advice.
  • Address their complex financial issues through individualized support from a community financial worker provided in the neighbourhoods where they live.
  • Access to tax credits and benefits such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit, Canada Learning Bond or Guaranteed Income Supplement that may be available to them.
  • Gain greater self-sufficiency, personal dignity and hope for the future.

By helping our community’s most vulnerable individuals better access financial services and deal with their money issues, the Financial Literacy strategy will address some of the root causes of poverty while bolstering Toronto’s economy.

Q: What are the key components of the Financial Literacy strategy?

A: The key components of the strategy include:

  • Expanding access to direct service (for example, individual counselling, workshops and other services) through a new Volunteer Program and Mobile Community Financial Worker Program.
  • Developing a standardized curriculum for delivery of financial literacy workshops.
  • Collaborating with the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy to build the capacity of front-line staff to deliver Financial Literacy supports to agency recipients.
  • Together with community partners, advocating with provincial and federal governments for systemic changes and funding supports.
  • Evaluating programs and the coordinated model as a promising practice to be shared with other jurisdictions.

Q: What is United Way Toronto’s role in fostering and maintaining the Financial Literacy strategy?

A: United Way Toronto believes the Financial Literacy Strategy will foster innovation and creativity through a collaborative service delivery model. Together with our community partners, we hope to build greater understanding about the impact of financial literacy services. United Way Toronto is committed to:

  • Lead the recruitment and training of volunteers from the financial sector, continue working with our community partners to refine and expand the program curriculum, and assist in the placement of volunteers at community agencies across the city.
  • Solicit additional financial resources in order to roll out the full integrated financial literacy service model targeting low-income Torontonians.
  • Facilitate the development of an evaluation framework and set of evidence-based common outcomes, indicators, and tools to measure the impact of these new financial literacy services in the community.
  • Encourage government and private sector leadership in public policy and practices that will address systemic barriers that affect the financial wellbeing of low-income individuals.

Q: How is the Financial Literacy Program being implemented?

A: In December 2009, United Way Toronto secured its first special gift for the Financial Literacy strategy from TD Bank. Thanks to our founding sponsor, United Way Toronto was able to begin implementation of the Financial Literacy strategy.

  • Rolling out the volunteer program and continue the coordination of financial sector volunteers working with agencies and their low-income clients.
  • Introducing a Mobile Community Financial Worker in the Jane-Finch community and downtown Toronto to provide in-depth support to low-income individuals who need help dealing with their financial concerns.
  • Identifying community partners to host the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy training sessions in Toronto for agency staff working with low-income individuals, including youth, newcomers, aboriginal peoples, women, and families with children.
  • Developing an evaluation framework to measure the impact of these new financial literacy services in the community.

Q: How does volunteerism work with the Financial Literacy strategy? How can I get involved?

A: You can determine if there are positions available in the Volunteer Program by contacting us at Volunteers must have a strong financial background and speaking a language other than English is an asset. Volunteers will also work with low-income individuals at participating agencies through workshops such as Budgeting 101, Credit and You! and Banking in Canada. If chosen as a volunteer, you will receive training on how to guide the workshops and additional guidance as needed.

Q: What is the Mobile Community Financial Worker Program all about?

A: With additional resources, the Mobile Community Financial Worker program will see the expansion of financial literacy services to each of the five quadrants of the city including Downtown Toronto, North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough and East York. These mobile workers will have a deep knowledge of local community issues and provide customized individual counselling, workshops and other financial literacy services to community members while supporting capacity building for local agency staff.

Q: How can I determine if I am an eligible recipient and can take part in a Financial Literacy workshop?

A: Financial Literacy workshops are available at select United Way Toronto membership agencies, which offer them to agency recipients. Financial Literacy workshops are open to all low-income individuals who require assistance with their finances.

Q: Are there specific Financial Literacy workshops I can attend?

A: Financial Literacy workshops are available at select United Way Toronto membership agencies (check with your local membership agency to see if it is offered). You can take part in include Budgeting 101: How to effectively manage the money you have, Credit and You: Learning about credit and how to use it wisely and Banking Services in Canada: Understanding the basics. The workshops are intended to enhance the ability of low-income individuals to deal with their financial situations.

Q: How much does it cost to attend a Financial Literacy workshop?

A: All workshops are free—all you have to do is book your spot in advance in order to attend by connecting with a United Way Toronto membership agency that offers a Financial Literacy workshop. You can do so by contacting us at or checking out our listing of membership agencies.

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