Designing a remote financial help service

Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown, community service agencies across Canada have had to rapidly adapt the way they engage and support people in the community. ​ A growing number of Canadians need (or soon will need) support as they deal with the financial strain brought on by an unprecedented global pandemic. ​Community agencies would like to help connect people to support and there is increased interest in how to deliver that support remotely. ​

Over a nine-month period beginning mid 2020, and with funding from Capital One, Prosper Canada worked alongside service design firm Bridgeable and community agencies in Manitoba, British Columbia, and Ontario to study the remote delivery of financial help services in each setting. The research was followed by a period of learning, sharing and data collection reflected in the reports and toolkit published here.



Reports
These slide decks describe the goals and outcomes of this project.
Socialization deck: Supporting the design of a remote financial help service (Bridgeable)

Client Journey maps
These journey maps offer a visual explanation of the process used by the 3 participating community agencies offering one-on-one client support.
Family Services of Greater Vancouver
SEED Winnipeg
Thunder Bay Counselling

Toolkit
This toolkit was developed in collaboration with community partners, and shares tools for coaches and clients in the virtual one-on-one process.
Virtual service delivery tools (Toolkit)

ABLE 2021: Virtual Series

Recover and Rebuild: Helping Canadians build financial security during the pandemic and beyond

The 2021 ABLE Financial Empowerment (FE) virtual series is a collection of online financial empowerment events designed to provide frontline FE practitioners, FE stakeholders, government, policy-makers and academics with knowledge, tools, resources and insights on financial topics to help struggling Canadians build financial resilience through the pandemic and recovery.  

The spring virtual series features presentations and interactive discussions for frontline practitioners. The fall virtual series showcases relevant topics for post-pandemic financial empowerment and is geared for people from all sectors working to mobilize financial empowerment solutions to tackle poverty in Canada.




Self-care for frontline practitioners: Challenges and Strategies

As practitioners continue to deliver important client-centred services during the COVID-19 pandemic, this can be accompanied by feelings of burnout or compassion fatigue. It can be helpful to establish or renew your practice of self-care, fostering your own physical and mental health during trying times. 

In this one-hour webinar, mental health educator, Rebecca Higgins will guide audience participants to identify challenges and strategies to developing a self-care practice or build further on existing practices. Participants will be guided through an activity to take inventory of their self-care practices to access supports and personal sense of purpose in their work.  

Hosted by Prosper Canada on behalf of the ABLE Steering Committee. Visit ablefinancialempowerment.org for a full list of upcoming events in the series. 



Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Click ‘Get it’ above for video link for this webinar.

Handout: Implementing a practice of self-care

Financial Relief Navigator

The Financial Relief Navigator is an online tool that can help you find support to raise your income or lower your expenses in these challenging times.

The tool will suggest income benefits or other support programs you may be eligible for in your province/territory in Canada. 

Growing household financial instability: Is income volatility the hidden culprit?

On March 9th, 2018, leading American and Canadian researchers and policy makers from all sectors gathered in Toronto to explore the question: Growing household financial instability: Is income volatility the hidden culprit? The policy research symposium was an invitational event co-hosted by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and Prosper Canada. Its purpose was to shine a light on an issue that has gained prominence in US economic and policy circles but was just emerging as a topic for exploration in Canada in the context of
growing household financial instability.

This report summarizes key insights, conclusions and next steps from the symposium in the hopes that it will inform, catalyse and support further action on this issue. To view the conference agenda and links to all conference presentations, please see Appendix 1. Presentation videos can be found online at
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC0J2kAG0MZZ5gd_6ZaHjqqEcenL2jCtP



Roadblocks and Resilience

This report, Roadblocks and Resilience Insights from the Access to Benefits for Persons with Disabilities project, provides insights on the barriers people with disabilities in British Columbia face in accessing key income benefits. These insights, and the accompanying service principles that participants identified, were obtained by reviewing existing research, directly engaging 16 B.C. residents with disabilities and interviewing 18 researchers and service providers across Canada. We will use these insights to inform development and testing of a pilot service to support people with disabilities to access disability benefits.

The related journey map Common steps to get disability benefits also illustrates the complexities of this benefits application process. 

This journey map illustrates the process of applying for the Disability Tax Credit.

The journey map Persons with Disability (PWD) status illustrates the process of preparing for and applying for and maintaining Persons with Disabilities Status and disability assistance in B.C.



Cross Canada Check-up (updated March 2021)

Canada ranks consistently as one of the best places to live in the world and one of the wealthiest. When it comes to looking at the financial health of Canadian households, however, we are often forced to rely on incomplete measures, like income alone, or aggregate national statistics that tell us little about the distribution of financial health and vulnerability in our neighbourhoods, communities or provinces/territories.

The purpose of this report is to examine the financial heath and vulnerability of Canadian households in different provinces and territories using a new composite index of household financial health, the Neighbourhood Financial Health Index or NFHI.

This report is an update of Cross Canada Check-up: Provincial/territorial findings from Canada's Neighbourhood Financial Health Index published in 2018. 



** Virtual self-filing tax filing toolkit **


This toolkit has been created to support the Virtual Self Filing tax filing model piloted in 2020 by community agencies in Ontario. In this model, individuals file their own tax return but receive support from community agency staff or volunteers to do so. 

This resource was made possible through funding from Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation and Intuit Canada.

We are grateful to Woodgreen Community Services and EBO Financial Education Centre for their contributions to this resource.

If you are interested in adopting the Virtual Self Filing tax filing model in your own agency using the TurboTax for Tax Clinics software, please contact Ana Fremont (Program Delivery & Integration Manager) at afremont@prospercanada.org. 




Virtual self-assisted tax filing: Learnings from a program pilot

During 2020, alternative approaches to the traditional community tax clinic model have become even more valuable as COVID-19 lockdown measures prevented in-person program delivery. In response to the growing demand for alternative ways to deliver tax-filing supportProsper Canada partnered with Intuit Canada and three community organizations in Ontario to pilot a virtual tax-filing model that empowers individuals to complete their tax return themselves. The pilot was supported by tax experts and volunteers who helped guide individuals through the TurboTax for Tax Clinics Canada software.  

The webinar speakers are:

  • Ana Fremont (Prosper Canada)
  • Guy Labelle, (Intuit/TurboTax)
  • Ansley Dawson (Woodgreen Community Services, Toronto)
  • Marc D’Orgeville, (EBO, Ottawa) 

This webinar is ideally suited for frontline practitioners exploring alternate ways to deliver tax-filing support to vulnerable Canadians. 

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.



Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Download the handout for this webinar: Process map: Virtual Self-File model overview

Time-stamps for the video recording:
4:01 – Agenda and introductions
5:59 – Audience polls
10:27 – Project introduction (Speaker: Ana Fremont, Prosper Canada)
14:31 – Tour of TurboTax for Tax Clinics (Speaker: Guy Labelle, Intuit)
17:59 – Woodgreen project pilot (Speaker: Ansley Dawson, Woodgreen Community Services)
27:35 – EBO 2-step process (Speaker: Marc D’Orgeville, EBO)
39:26 – Woodgreen program modifications (Speaker: Ansley Dawson, Woodgreen)
46:03 – Q&A


Delivering virtual tax clinics: How to prepare and steps to consider 

This tax season, community tax clinics across Canada will be preparing to support clients virtually rather than in person amidst physical distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adapting to a virtual tax clinic model means preparing for different ways of volunteer preparation, client outreach, and delivering one-on-one tax-filing help.

In this one-hour webinar, speakers from the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will share key considerations for Canadian practitioners operating tax clinics in 2021, as well as how to access CVITP program training and support.

This webinar is designed to support practitioners delivering community tax clinics in Canada.

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.

Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Time-stamps for the video recording:
3:46 – Agenda and introductions
6:21 – Audience polls
11:08 – CVITP program and recent changes
16:58 – CVITP volunteer training
26:58 – What’s new for 2021 and Virtual clinics
36:37 – Q&A

Consumer debt and household vulnerability among low and moderate- income households in Canada 

Household debt levels in Canada have been rising since the 1990s, which poses increasing risks for Canada’s economy and Canadians’ financial health. However, the debt ‘picture’ for an average low- or moderate-income household is likely to be quite different from higher income households, both in terms of amount of debt and type of debt they take on. 

Join Alex Bucik and Vivian Odufrom Prosper Canada in this one-hour webinar where theywe will present findings from recent Prosper Canada’s recent research on consumer debt in CanadaRoadblock to Recovery: Consumer debt of low- and moderate-income Canadians in the time of COVID-19. Alex and Vivian will explore what types of debt are more common in low- or moderate-income householdsand some of the drivers of this debt load.  

This webinar is intended to equip financial educators and frontline practitioners supporting low-income clients, with recent knowledge on the types of debt Canadians living on low income may be dealing with, and things to know about the pitfalls of different types of debt. 

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.



Read the presentation slides for this webinar.

Handouts for this webinar:
Report: Roadblock to recovery: Consumer debt of low- and moderate-income Canadian households in the time of COVID-19 (Prosper Canada)
Survey results: Canadians with incomes under $40K bearing the financial brunt of COVID-19 (Leger and Prosper Canada)

Time-stamps for the video recording:
4:42 – Agenda and introductions
7:52 – Audience polls
10:55 – Researching consumer debt (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
18:55 – How much does debt cost? (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
23:17 – How do different kinds of debt work? (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
29:17 – What are people using their credit for? (Speaker: Vivian Odu)
40:49 – What help is available to Canadian borrowers? (Speaker: Alex Bucik)
45:22 – Q&A

Indicators for Financial Empowerment: Learnings from the National Financial Empowerment Champions Project

This resource offers a set of common indicators that community organizations can use to measure the reach and impact of their financial empowerment (FE) programming. It is intended for any community organization that works to foster greater financial well-being for economically disadvantaged Canadians.

This resource compiles the key performance indicators (KPIs) and presents them for use by community organizations beyond the National Financial Empowerment Champions (FECs) partners. The KPIs have been refined in response to partners’ feedback and in recognition of developments in the FE field, ensuring that the definitions reflect current and best practices in the field of financial empowerment/financial literacy in Canada and the USA.