Increasing education savings for families living on low incomes: An outcome harvest evaluation

Momentum is a changing-making organization located in Calgary, Alberta that works with people living on low incomes and partners in the community to create a thriving local economy for all. In 2008, Momentum launched the StartSmart program to support families living on low incomes to open Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) to access free government education savings incentives such as the Canada Learning Bond (CLB). Momentum subsequently partnered with community agencies and advocated for systems level change in order to reach more families and scale up CLB uptake. 

This report captures the collective efforts and outcomes of Momentum and community partners regarding increasing the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) uptake in Canada, as well as lessons learned.

The report highlights include:

  • Momentum and community partners efforts contributed to more than doubling the CLB uptake rate in Calgary (from 20% to 52%)
  • Through Aspire, Momentum trained over 350 community staff and volunteers from over 80 community agencies to deliver the StartSmart program
  • Policy successes (such as changing social housing rules to accommodate RESP savings) were achieved and some failures (cancellation of the provincial ACES grant) were experienced
  • Policy changes are still required to see significant uptake of the CLB. See Momentum's recent publication Public Policy Options to Better Enable Education Savings by Families on Low Incomes



Creating Change: Momentum’s Contribution to High-Cost Credit Reform in Alberta

As part of Momentum’s systems change planning process that was grounded in both participant and community experience, the issue of payday loans and other forms of high-cost credit (e.g., pawn, installment, rent-to-own, title and car loans) emerged as a priority issue for Momentum to address the financial barriers for people living on low incomes to exit poverty and build sustainable livelihoods.
To evaluate its work for high-cost credit reform in Calgary and Alberta in the period of 2012 to 2019, an outcome harvest was conducted. This evaluation reflects the collective efforts of multiple partners, identifies outcomes achieved as well as Momentum’s contribution to these outcomes.



Homeless Shelter Flows in Calgary and the Potential Impact of COVID-19

Social distancing and self-isolation are two of the key responses asked of citizens during a pandemic. For people without a home, this advice is rather more difficult to follow. This article uses daily data describing the movements of 36,855 unique individuals who used emergency homeless shelters in Calgary over the period 1 January 2014–31 December 2019. The use of emergency shelters is characterized by large flows from and into the broader community and smaller flows between individual shelters. Between admissions of new people into the shelter system and multiple re-admissions of current clients, there were an average of 43,613 movements between the community and between shelters each month. The size of these flows provide a measure of the extent to which people reliant on homeless shelters are exposed to the risk of transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 



Creating Communities Where We Live – A Good Practices Guide

Creating Communities Where We Live - A Good Practices Guide is a locally-driven community-based researched project conducted in Edmonton, Alberta, by e4c and the University of Alberta Community Service-Learning program. The project seeks to add to the knowledge and practice of community care around supporting people to achieve a safe, secure, and affordable housing experience.

The 10 good practices in this guide describe structures, roles, and relationships which promote community and wellbeing for tenants who live in affordable housing. The practices are informed, in part, by research into tenant and staff experiences at affordable housing complexes run by four Edmonton housing providers.



Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada: Statistics and Research

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada releases statistics on insolvency (bankruptcies and proposals) numbers in Canada.

The latest statistics released on November 4, 2020 show that the number of insolvencies in Canada increased in the third quarter of 2020 by 7.9% compared to the second quarter.



Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NEET (not in employment, education or training) indicator, March and April 2020

A fact sheet released by Statistics Canada shows that, in March and April 2020, the proportion of young Canadians who were not in employment, education or training (NEET) increased to unprecedented levels.

The COVID-19 pandemic—and the public health interventions that were put in place to limit its spread—have affected young people in a number of ways, including high unemployment rates, school closures and education moving online.



From Emergency to Opportunity: Building a Resilient Alberta Nonprofit Sector After COVID-19

This report presents an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the nonprofit sector drawn from data collected in CCVO's Alberta Nonprofit Survey, data from surveys by the Alberta
Nonprofit Network, Imagine Canada, and partner organizations across the country.

The analysis in this report shows that the effects on the nonprofit sector have been magnified through increased service demand, decreased revenue, and diminished organizational capacity coupled by delays in support and inadequate recognition for the leadership role that the sector is being called upon to play.



Social Assistance Summaries

The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory. It was established by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy to maintain data previously published by the federal government as the Social Assistance Statistical Report. The data is provided by provincial and territorial government officials.



Are charities ready for social finance? Investment readiness in Canada’s charitable sector

While social finance could have a transformative impact on the funding and financial landscape, relatively little is understood about its implications for charities. This webinar presents the results of a national survey of over 1,000 registered charities undertaken by Imagine Canada to better understand charities’ current readiness to participate in Canada’s growing social finance market



Introducing the Financial Relief Navigator

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the complexities of the benefits and financial relief measures available to Canadians, we developed the Financial Relief Navigator (FRN), an online resource that helps vulnerable Canadians and those that work with them access critical emergency benefits and financial relief from governments, financial institutions, telecoms, utility and internet providers.

In this one-hour webinar you'll hear from Galen MacLusky and Janet Flynn of Prosper Canada who will give you an overview of the FRN and provide tips on how to support your clients to access critical benefits and financial relief. 

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

Access the Financial Relief Navigator here.



Presentation slides for this webinar

Handouts for this webinar
Introducing the Financial Relief Navigator (FRN)
Access the Financial Relief Navigator here.

Time-stamps for the video recording:
3:22 – Agenda and Introductions
6:00 – Audience poll
9:00 – Why we created the Financial Relief Navigator (Speaker: Janet Flynn)
11:55 – What’s in the Financial Relief Navigator (Speaker: Janet Flynn)
16:35 – FRN Walkthrough using a Persona (Speaker: Galen McLusky)
33:15 – Tips for using the FRN (Speaker: Galen McLusky)
36:00 – The Working Centre experience using the FRN (Speaker: Sue Collison)
41:15 – Q&A

** Managing in tough times: COVID-19 toolkit **

This toolkit contains resources and information which may offer support to organizations, agencies, or frontline staff supporting individuals, during a challenging time. This toolkit was developed in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and more resources will be added as they become available. If you have a resource or would like to submit tips to be included in a future addition, please write to: hub@prospercanada.org.

Added on Feb 26, 2021: Answers to your questions about paying back CERB - Canada Revenue Agency
Added on Feb 11, 2021: Tax information for Indigenous peoples - Government of Canada



This section will be updated as more actions are taken in response to COVID-19.

Government of Canada information
(Information on the current situation, health and safety, financial and economical support)
Income tax filing and payment deadlines – Canada Revenue Agency
Free tax clinics go virtual – Canada Revenue Agency
Changes to taxes and benefits – CRA and COVID-19 – Canada Revenue Agency

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan – supports available for individuals and businesses – Department of Finance Canada (updated)
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) –
(Information on EI, Labour Program, Passport Services, Canada Student Loans)
COVID-19: How FCAC is responding – Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)
COVID-19: Warning of potential financial fraudsters – Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)
COVID-19 student loan adjustments – National Student Loan Centre
Applicants Guide – Social Insurance number (applications now by mail only) – ESDC
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Government of Canada

Service Canada service adjustments
Contact info during COVID-19 – Service Canada
Alternative Service Canada e-services delivery link – Service Canada
Applying for Employment Insurance – Important Notice (English) – Service Canada
Informations importantes pour présenter une demande d’assurance-emploi (Francais) – Service Canada
Service request online form – Service Canada

Non-government Canadian resources
COVID-19: Resources for Workers and Renters – Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
COVID-19 – Updates on the Law and Legal Services (Ontario) – Steps to Justice
Canada’s Six Biggest Banks Take Decisive Action to Help Customers Impacted by COVID-19 – Canadian Bankers Association (CBA)
Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Financial help for Canadians affected by COVID-19 – CBC News

COVID19 Resources for Indigenous Peoples – Indigenous Climate Action
Indigenous Community Support Fund – Government of Canada

Resources for non-profits during COVID-19 – Prosper Canada resource collection

Financial Relief Navigator tool (Prosper Canada)

Canada recovery benefits
Answers to your questions about paying back CERB – Canada Revenue Agency
News release: CERB repayments for self-employed individuals – Government of Canada
After CERB: Transitioning to new benefits – Government of Canada
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) – Canada Revenue Agency
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) – Canada Revenue Agency
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) – Canada Revenue Agency

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) with CRA – Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
Canadian Emergency Response Plan (CERB info sheet) – Government of Canada
Canadian Emergency Response Plan – French (CERB info sheet in French) – Government of Canada

What is the CERB? – Prosper Canada
FAQ: Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Prosper Canada (updated June 10th)
CERB: What you need to know about cashing your cheque – FCAC
COVID-19 Benefits (summary, includes Ontario) – CLEO/Steps to Justice
COVID-19 and Income Assistance – CLEO/Steps to Justice

GST/HST credit and Canada Child Benefit
COVID-19 – Increase to the GST/HST amount – Government of Canada
Canada Child Benefit Payment Increase – Government of Canada
Benefits payments for eligible Canadians to extend to Fall 2020 – Government of Canada

Support for students
Support for students and recent graduates – Government of Canada
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) – Government of Canada

General emergency government benefits information
COVID-19 measures to help Canadians (benefits and credits factsheet) – Government of Canada
COVID 19 measures: Money to help you (child family benefits factsheet) – Government of Canada
COVID 19 measures: Money to help you – French (child family benefits factsheet in French) – Government of Canada
COVID-19 Economic Response Plan (supports for individuals factsheet) – Government of Canada
COVID-19 Economic Response Plan – French (supports for individuals factsheet in French) – Government of Canada
Changes to taxes and benefits: CRA and COVID-19 – Government of Canada
Summary of Financial Benefits Under Canada’s COVID response plan (Multi-language) – Refugee Sponsorship Training Program

Support for organizations and businesses
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Calculator – CRA
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – Your questions asked – Imagine Canada
COVID-19 Emergency Support to Community Organizations (Infographic) – Government of Canada
COVID-19 Aide D’Urgence Aux Organismes Communautaires (infographie) – Government of Canada

Alberta
Financial Supports for People Impacted by COVID-19 – Momentum
3 Tax Filing Changes that Everyone Should Know – Momentum
Alberta’s COVID-19 response – Government of Alberta

British Columbia
BC Emergency Benefit for Workers – Government of British Columbia
Financial Supports in Response to COVID-19 – Government of British Columbia
New emergency fund for parents of children with disabilities – Government of British Columbia
New mental health supports and virtual counselling – CAMH British Columbia
BC Temporary Rental Supplement – BC Housing
Virtual Mental Health Supports During COVID-19 – Government of British Columbia
Staying Safe at Work – WorkSafe BC
BC Crisis Supplement – Government of British Columbia

Manitoba
Province of Manitoba COVID-19 Information and Support – Government of Manitoba

New Brunswick
Quick Reference Guide – Support for New Brunswick Workers and Students – NBjobs.ca, Government of New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador
COVID-19 updates, FAQs, supports – Government of Newfoundland & Labrador
Public Advisory: Information for Income Support Clients Regarding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Government of Newfoundland & Labrador

Northwest Territories
COVID-19 information – Health and Social Services NWT
Backgrounder: Wave 2 Economic Relief Measure details – Government of NWT

Nova Scotia
Novel coronavirus – Information and support for Nova Scotians – Government of Nova Scotia
Some social assistance recipients qualify for CERB payments – The Nova Scotia Advocate
EnergyAssist – free energy programs in Nova Scotia
Government of Nova Scotia programs, services and information

Nunavut
COVID-19 – Department of Health Nunavut

Ontario
COVID Help TO (Social Planning TO)
COVID-19: Support for people – Government of Ontario
Increase to Ontario GAINS payments for seniors – Government of Ontario
COVID-19 resources: Information about government programs, income support, housing support, and more – Social Planning Toronto
COVID-19 Resources – Association of Municipalities of Ontario
COVID-19 – Updates on the Law and Legal Services – Steps to Justice
COVID-19 current support for social assistance recipients – Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services
COVID-19 and Income Assistance – CLEO/Steps to Justice

Prince Edward Island
COVID-19 information, updates, support for business and workers – Government of PEI

Saskatchewan
Support for Businesses and Workers – Government of Saskatchewan

Quebec
COVID-19 – Financial assistance for workers – Government of Quebec
COVID-19 – Tout savoir sur les mesures en place pour les consommateurs – Union des Consommateurs

Yukon
Information about COVID-19 – Yukon.ca
Canada Emergency Response Benefit to be exempted from Yukon Social Assistance – Yukon.ca

All
Overview of Government Responses to COVID-19 – FP Canada
How does COVID-19 relief differ across Canada? – Canada’s National Observer (dated March 30, 2020)
Summary of Property Tax Deferrals in Canada – creditcardGenius
Free virtual investment advice – Kindwealth

Budgeting resources
Five different budgeting methods – Prosper Canada
Cash flow budget template – PDF – Prosper Canada
Cash flow budget template – fillable PDF – Prosper Canada
Simple budget template – PDF – Prosper Canada
Simple budget template – fillable PDF – Prosper Canada
Ten ways to trim expenses – Prosper Canada
Ways to save at the grocery store – Prosper Canada
5 budgeting app ideas – Prosper Canada

COVID vs Personal Budget tool – EBO Ottawa
Managing COVID-19 financial stress – Mental Health Commission
COVID-19 Aid and Recovery Education (CARE) packages – CPA Canada *NEW
COVID-19 Aid and Recovery Education (CARE) packages in French – CPA Canada *NEW

Tracking spending/bills
Expenses tracking sheet – PDF – Prosper Canada
Expenses tracking sheet – fillable PDF – Prosper Canada
Tracking fluctuating expenses – Prosper Canada
Prioritizing Bills tool – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Spending tracker tool – CFPB
Cutting expenses tool – CFPB

Online budgeting tools
Budget Planner (free) – Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)
Budget Calculator Spreadsheet (downloadable Excel sheet) – MyMoneyCoach.ca
Spending Habits Calculator – GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca

Action planning
Making a debt action plan – Prosper Canada
DWD Worksheet #3: Making a debt action plan – Fillable PDF – Prosper Canada
Know your rights and options (dealing with creditors) – Prosper Canada
Guide for talking to creditors – Prosper Canada
Steps to debt repayment – Prosper Canada
Managing bills and debt during an emergency – Prosper Canada

More resources
Options you can trust to help with your debt – Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptch
Credit Counselling Canada – for 1:1 debt counselling support
Resources to help during COVID-19 – Credit Counselling Society
Debt Help / COVID-19 Resource Centre – Credit Canada
Financial Relief in Canada during the coronavirus pandemic – Credit Counselling Society
COVID-19 Resource Centre; legal and business information – Torkin Manes
Dealing with Debt resources handout – Prosper Canada

Navigating the new normal: Impact on Credit scores (recorded webinar) – Equifax Canada

Coaching during an emergency
Managing during an emergency: Tips for individuals – Prosper Canada
Thrive Even When Life Feels Chaotic and Uncertain – Momentum
Financial coaching at a distance: Tips for practitioners – Prosper Canada
Going virtual with your financial consultations – CFPB

Coaching skills and tools
Coaching skills: Active listening – Prosper Canada
Coaching skills: The art of acknowledgement – Prosper Canada
COACH-ing moments – Prosper Canada
Mind mapping (to support brainstorming) – Prosper Canada
‘Plan, do, review’ action planning template – Prosper Canada

Technology support
Connected Canadians (technology support for seniors)
Youth teaching adults – ABC Literacy

Banking
No-cost and low-cost bank accounts in Canada – FCAC
Account comparison tool – FCAC
What do do if you’re facing financial hardship (Includes bank fees which may be refunded) – FCAC

Frauds and scams
CERB and other COVID-19 scams – Prosper Canada (NEW!)
Escroqueries liées à la PCU et autres fraudes courantes durant la pandémie de COVID-19 – Prospérité Canada (NEW!)

COVID-19 fraud – Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
COVID-19 specific frauds and scams – CanAge

Virtual asset safety/future planning
Tips to create a plan for your digital assets – CFPB

Resources for supporting seniors
COVID-19 specific frauds and scams – CanAge
COVID-19: Support for Seniors – CARP
COVID-19 Updates – Money Matters: Benefits, Taxes, Banking, Financial Relief, and Scams – The Council of Aging in Ottawa
Increase to Ontario GAINS payments for seniors – Government of Ontario
Changes to GIS and public pensions under COVID-19 – Government of Canada
New Horizons program for seniors – Government of Canada
New supports for seniors announced (May 12) – Prime Minister’s Office

Resources for supporting newcomers
Coronavirus: Financial assistance for newcomers, temporary residents, and refugees – Government of Canada
Summary of Financial Benefits Under Canada’s COVID response plan (Multi-language) – Refugee Sponsorship Training Program
Information for Newcomers – Settlement.org
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

Resources for Indigenous people
Tax information for Indigenous peoples – Government of Canada

Indigenous income tax issues – Government of Canada
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Indigenous communities – Government of Canada

Resources for people with disabilities
COVID-19 Measures for Persons with Disabilities (DTC info sheet)- Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
COVID-19 Measures for Persons with Disabilities – French (DTC info sheet in French) – Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
Disability Tax Credit Tool – Disability Alliance BC
Disability Inclusion Analysis of Government of Canada’s Response to COVID-19 (report and fact sheets) – Live Work Well Research Centre

Homeless Supports – Social Planning TO (Toronto)

Resources: Coronavirus COVID-19 – Canadian Network for the Health and Housing of People Experiencing Homelessness (CHH3)

A Pandemic Response and Recovery Toolkit for Homeless System Leaders in Canada (Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness)
Disaster Recovery Toolkit – Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA (HUD)



Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) provincial snapshots

This infographics from the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) show information about the program by province for the tax filing year 2019, including number of returns filed and amount of refunds and benefits accessed. 

The information is presented in English and French.

Les informations sont présentées en anglais et en français.



Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) and Financial Empowerment

This policy brief discusses issues surrounding access to Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) in the province of Alberta and recommended solutions for increasing RDSP uptake. With the Government of Alberta's commitment to improving financial independence for people in the province, suggestions are provided on how to link the government RDSP strategy with financial empowerment collaboratives and champions existing in the province to maximize effectiveness and efficiency.



Blended programs: Boosting financial education and participant outcomes

There are many different ways to deliver financial empowerment programs. Financial literacy education, financial coaching, and matched savings programs can be successfully delivered independently, with successful outcomes for participants. They can also be blended together to accomplish several educational goals and improve participant outcomes. 

In this one-hour webinar we explore two examples of blended program models. The speakers are:

  • Anna Jordan (Momentum – Calgary, AB
  • Monica Da Ponte (Strive – Toronto, ON)

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:
How Savings Circles Works
Information about the Strive program

Time-stamps for the video recording:
3:35 – Agenda and introductions
6:00 – Audience polls
10:58 – Financial empowerment interventions (Speaker: Glenna Harris)
14:00 – Savings Circles program at Momentum (Speaker: Anna Jordan)
33:18 – Strive program (Speaker: Monica daPonte)
55:50 – Q&A

Welfare in Canada, 2018

These reports look at the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance (often called “welfare”), taking into account tax credits and other benefits along with social assistance itself. The reports look at four different household types for each province and territory. Established by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Welfare in Canada is a continuation of the Welfare Incomes series originally published by the National Council of Welfare, based on the same approach.



Urban Spotlight: Neighbourhood Financial Health Index findings for Canada’s cities

This report examines the financial health and vulnerability of households in Canada’s 35 largest cities, using a new composite index of household financial health at the neighbourhood level, the Neighbourhood Financial Health Index or NFHI. The NFHI is designed to shine a light on the dynamics underlying national trends, taking a closer look at what is happening at the provincial/territorial, community and neighbourhood levels.



Incentivized Savings: An Effective Approach at Tax Time

A tax refund is often the largest amount of money a low-income household will receive throughout the year. It offers a unique opportunity to think long term and save for the future. Thus, in 2018, Momentum launched a new pilot program called Tax Time Savings (TTS), presented by ATB. It was through a dedicated collaboration with ATB Financial, Aspire Calgary, Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre, Centre for Newcomers, and First Lutheran Church Calgary that made it all possible.

This report shares results and highlights from the 2018 Tax Time Savings program. 93% of participants earned the maximum match of $500.



High-Cost Alternative Financial Services: The Customer Experience

In early 2017 Momentum reached out to over 50 community members and participants to better understand local experiences with high-cost alternative financial services. In addition to connecting with individuals through interviews, Momentum hosted community consultations in partnership with Poverty Talks! and Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre. The following document summarizes what we learned from these conversations and the loan contracts that borrowers shared with us. It also identifies several themes that emerged from these discussions.



Summary Brief: High-Cost Alternative Financial Services

Many Albertans turn to high-cost alternative financial services when they need a short-term fix for a financial issue. Though these services are expensive and unsafe, they are often the only option for low-income individuals, particularly those who struggle to obtain credit at mainstream financial institutions. High-cost alternative financial services contribute to a two-tiered banking system, in which the poor often pay more for inferior services.

Without more stringent regulation, and in the absence of safe and affordable short-term credit options, Albertans living on lower-incomes will continue to experience financial exclusion and take on heavy debt loads – both of which are major contributors to long-term poverty.



High-Cost Alternative Financial Services: Policy Options

Many Canadians turn to high-cost alternative financial services when they need a short-term fix for a budgetary issue. Though these banking and credit alternatives are a convenient choice for individuals in search of fast cash, particularly those who face barriers to obtaining credit at a bank or credit union, access comes at a steep price and with a high degree of risk. On its own, one high-cost loan has the potential to trap a borrower in a cycle of debt, not only amplifying their short-term problem, but also limiting their ability to secure the income and assets needed to thrive in the long term.

The policy recommendations presented in this brief, and summarized in the chart on page two,  are inspired by the regulatory initiatives across the country, and reflect ways in which all three levels of government can contribute to better consumer protection for all Canadians.

 



High cost lending in Canada


This webinar, "High cost lending in Canada: Risks, regulations, and alternatives," is about why high cost lending products are concerning, especially for financially vulnerable Canadians. Speakers discuss what is driving the use of these products, what kind of regulations are involved, and what advocacy and financial product solutions could look like. The speakers are:

  • Jerry Buckland from Canadian Mennonite University
  • Courtney Hare from Momentum.

Read the presentation slides for this webinar.




Stretch Your Dollars: Budgeting Basics