The Well-Being and Financial Well-Being of Canadians: financially vulnerable households the most challenged

This brief discusses how more financially vulnerable Canadians are most challenged based on the Seymour Financial Resilience Index TM. This E-Brief builds on Statistics Canada Canadians' Well-being in Year One of the COVID-19 Pandemic report and Seymour’s February 2021 Index Release Summary.



The Pivotal Role of Human Service Practitioners in Building Financial Capability

This report shares remarks by Mae Watson Grote, Founder and CEO of The Financial Clinic, at the Coin A Better Future conference in May 2018.

The journey from financial insecurity to security, and eventually, mobility—what we conceptualize and even romanticize as the quintessential American experience—is one that far too often ensnares people at the insecurity stage, particularly those communities or neighborhoods that have historically been marginalized and deliberately excluded from the traditional pathway towards prosperity. Fraught with debt and credit crises, alongside a myriad of predatory products and lending practices, to a sense of stigma and shame many Americans feel because of their economic status, financial insecurity involves navigating a world on a daily basis where everyday needs are at the mercy of unjust and uncontrollable variables.



Achieving Financial Resilience in the Face of Financial Setbacks

Financial shocks like these happen to financially vulnerable families every day. Such shocks destabilize household finances and can create hardships that threaten overall well-being. Having tools to manage financial emergencies is critical for people’s long-run financial security.

The Asset Funders Network (AFN) developed this primer to inform community-based strategies that can help economically-vulnerable families to better manage financial setbacks, shortfalls, and shocks. The goal of this brief is to provide a common understanding and language for funders and financial capability programs as part of a financial emergency toolkit.



Roadblock to Recovery: Consumer debt of low- and moderate-income Canadians in the time of COVID-19

Almost half of low-income households and 62 per cent of moderate-income households carry debt, with households on low incomes spending 31 per cent of their income on debt repayments, according to a new report published by national charity, Prosper Canada.

This report analyzes the distribution, amount and composition of non-mortgage debt held by low- and moderate-income Canadian households and explores implications for federal and provincial/territorial policy makers as they develop and implement COVID-19 economic recovery plans and fulfill their respective regulatory roles.



Hunger Lives Here: Risks and Challenges Faced by Food Bank Clients During COVID-19

This report provides quantitative and qualitative data about the experience of hunger and poverty in Toronto during COVID-19. Based on phone surveys with over 220 food bank clients in May and June 2020 and an analysis of food bank client intake data, the report demonstrates that COVID-19 has led to increased reliance on food banks. The rate of new clients accessing food banks has tripled since the pandemic began. Among new clients, 76% report that they began accessing food banks as a result of COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn.



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.



How Are the Most Vulnerable Households Navigating the Financial Impact of COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has already had an unprecedented impact on the financial lives of households across the United States. During June and July 2020, Prosperity Now conducted a national survey of lower-income households to better understand the circumstances these households are confronted with and the strategies they use to secure resources to navigate this crisis.



U.S. Financial Health Pulse: 2019 Trends Report

This report presents findings from the second annual U.S. Financial Health Pulse, which is designed to explore how the financial health of people in America is changing over time. The annual Pulse report scores survey respondents against eight indicators of financial health -- spending, bill payment, short-term and long-term savings, debt load, credit score, insurance coverage, and planning -- to assess whether they are “financially healthy,” “financially coping,” or “financially vulnerable”.  The data in the Pulse report provide critical insights that go beyond aggregate economic indicators, such as employment and market performance, to provide a more accurate picture of the financial lives of people in the U.S.



Economic and Fiscal Snapshot 2020

The COVID-19 crisis is a public health crisis and an economic crisis. The Economic and Fiscal Snapshot 2020 lays out the steps Canada is taking to stabilize the economy and protect the health and economic well-being of Canadians and businesses across the country.



Advancing Health and Wealth Integration in the Earliest Years

Despite the well-documented connection between health and wealth, investing in this intersection is still a new approach for many grantmakers. With the goal of inspiring increased philanthropic attention, exploration, and replication, this new spotlight elevates responsive philanthropic strategies that support both health and wealth.

This report focuses on the in utero-toddler stage of the life cycle (0-3 years). This age segment has some health-wealth integration activity, primarily through two-generation approaches. The goal is to inspire more philanthropic investment for this cohort by highlighting research and examples and offering recommendations.



Defining disability for social assistance in Ontario: Options for moving forward

Narrowing the definition of disability used by the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) could have serious implications. Improving the program’s assessment process would yield better results for applicants, Ontario's social safety net, and the government.

This report explores the role of ODSP, the risks of narrowing the definition of disability, models of disability assessment from other jurisdictions, and alternative ways that the government could reform the program. Most importantly, the paper recommends that the Ministry focus on improving ODSP’s initial application process. A simplified assessment system would save time and money for applicants, medical professionals, legal clinics, adjudicators, and the Social Benefits Tribunal. These savings should be reinvested back into social assistance.



Elder Fraud Prevention and Response Networks Development Guide

This guide provides step-by-step materials to help communities form networks to increase their capacity to prevent and respond to elder financial exploitation.

The planning tools, templates and exercises offered in this guide help stakeholders plan a stakeholder retreat and training event, host a retreat, reconvene and establish their network, and expand network capabilities in order to create a new network or to refresh or expand an existing one.



Ageing and Financial Inclusion: 8 key steps to design a better future

The G20 Fukuoka Policy Priorities for Ageing and Financial Inclusion is jointly prepared by the GPFI and the OECD. The document identifies eight priorities to help policy makers, financial service providers, consumers and other actors in the real economy to identify and address the challenges associated with ageing populations and the global increase in longevity. They reflect policies and practices to improve the outcomes of both current generations of older people and future generations.



System transformation in Ontario Works: Considerations for Ontario

This paper focuses on proposed system transformation in Ontario Works, and explores the possibilities and limitations associated with the proposed changes in 2018. First, it looks at the broader context within which the government’s social assistance reforms are taking place. Second, it provides an overview of what is known about some of the structural changes in social assistance to date, as well as an overview of experiences in other jurisdictions that have undertaken similar reforms. In conclusion, the paper outlines some key considerations and unresolved questions that the government will need to address before it can move forward with a plan for reform.



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.



Helping Families Save to Withstand Emergencies

This brief identifies policy solutions to help American families build savings to withstand emergencies that threaten their financial stability.



Removing Savings Penalties for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

This brief discusses the savings penalties in public assistance programs in the United States, also known as asset limits, and that actions that can be taken to eliminate these limits and the barriers towards building savings for families living on low income.



Running in Place: Why the Racial Wealth Divide Keeps Black and Latino Families From Achieving Economic Security

This report examines data from the Federal Reserve System’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances to understand how the wealth of median Black, Latino and White families have changed since the findings of its previous survey were released in 2013.



Money on Your Mind

This report discusses the interactions between finances and mental health, based on the experience of over 5000 individuals who have lived with mental health problems. Mental health problems leading to relationship difficulties, physical health problems, mental health treatments, cognitive impairments, and psychological barriers to action are all seen as contributors to loss of or low income, higher spending, and poor financial management. The converse is also true - more than 80% of respondents also expressed that their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse.



Money stories: Financial resilience among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

This report builds on previous work on financial resilience in Australia and represents the beginning of an exploration of the financial resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Overall, we found significant economic disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. This is not surprising, given the histories of land dispossession, stolen wages and the late entry of Indigenous Australians into free participation in the economy (it is only 50 years since the referendum to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as members of the Australian population).

Specifically, we found:

  • Only one in ten Indigenous Australians are financially secure.
  • Fewer than two in five Indigenous people can access $2,000 for an emergency, compared with four in five in the broader Australian population.

Severe financial stress is present for half the Indigenous population, compared with one in ten in the broader Australian population. Read the report to find out more about the financial barriers faced by Indigenous people in Australia, and the sharing economy in which money as a commodity can both help and hurt financial resilience.



Protecting vulnerable clients: A practical guide for the financial services industry

Firms and representatives in the financial services industry occasionally encounter situations where a client’s vulnerability causes the client to make decisions that are contrary to his or her financial interests, needs or objectives or that leave him or her exposed to potential financial mistreatment.

Because of the relationships they develop with their clients and the knowledge they acquire about clients’ financial needs or objectives over time, firms and representatives in the financial sector can play a key role in helping people who are in a vulnerable situation protect their financial well-being. They are instrumental in preventing and detecting financial mistreatment among consumers of financial services. Firms and representatives can also help clients experiencing financial mistreatment get the assistance they need.

This guide proposes possible courses of action to protect vulnerable clients. Its purpose is to provide financial sector participants with guidance on the steps they can take to help protect clients’ financial well-being, prevent and detect financial mistreatment, and assist clients who are experiencing this type of mistreatment.



State of Cities Reducing Poverty

How has the Vibrant Communities – Cities Reducing Poverty (VC – CRP) network contributed to poverty reduction in Canada? In seeking to answer this central question, the State of Cities Reducing Poverty paper highlights the network’s numerous and varied impacts.



Boosting the Earned Income Tax Credit for Singles

By providing a refundable credit at tax time, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is widely viewed as a successful public policy that is both antipoverty and pro-work.  But most of its benefits have gone to workers with children.

Paycheck Plus is a test of a more generous credit for low-income workers without dependent children. The program, which provides a bonus of up to $2,000 at tax time, is being evaluated using a randomized controlled trial in New York City and Atlanta. This report presents findings through three years from New York, where over 6,000 low-income single adults without dependent children enrolled in the study in late 2013.

The findings are consistent with other research on the federal EITC, indicating that an effective work-based safety net program can increase incomes for vulnerable and low-income individuals and families while encouraging and rewarding work.



Gig Workers in America: Profiles, Mindset and Financial Wellness


The Gig Worker On-Demand Economy survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Prudential from January 5 to February 18, 2017, among a nationally representative (U.S.) sample of 1,491 workers including 514 full-time and 256 part-time traditional employees and 721 gig workers. Gig work was defined as providing a service or labor, and did not include renting out assets. Survey respondents were selected from among adults aged 18+ who had agreed to participate in online surveys from the Harris Poll Online panel and preferred sample partners.




Unfinished Business Pension Reform in Canada


Since taking office in the fall of 2015, the Liberal government has made important changes to the publicly administered components of Canada’s retirement income system (RIS). It has restored the age of eligibility for benefits under Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to 65, it has increased the top-up on GIS benefits for single elderly persons, and it has agreed with the provinces to enhance Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits, starting in 2019.
Each of these changes, on its own, contributes to one of the two main objectives of the RIS: to minimize the people’s risk of poverty in old age and to enhance their ability to retain their standard of living as they move from employment to retirement. However, as Bob Baldwin and Richard Shillington show in this study, when examined together, the changes are problematic and incomplete.




Microdata on household vulnerability in Canada: 1999 to 2014


This paper contributes to the literature on the state of household finances in Canada by constructing new indicators using Canadian microdata based on Canadian and international literature. Using data from the Survey of Financial Security (1999, 2005 and 2012), and also the Canadian Financial Capability Survey (2008 and 2014), it reports on 10 separate indicators of household financial vulnerability. Using logistic regression, it also models selected household characteristics that appear to serve as protective or risk factors for each measure of financial vulnerability. The goal is not to dispute analysis of aggregate data from macroeconomic sources, but instead to complement it, contributing to a more nuanced picture of trends and the current state of household finances in Canada




The Ever ­Growing Gap: Without Change, African ­American and Latino Families Won’t Match White Wealth for Centuries


This report examines the growing racial wealth divide for Black and Latino and the ways that accelerating  concentrations of wealth at the top compound and exacerbate this divide. It looks at trends in wealth accumulation from 1983 to 2013, as well as projections of what the next thirty years might bring. It  also considers the impact public policy has had in contributing to the racial wealth divide and how new policies can close this gap.




We Tracked Every Dollar 235 U.S. Households Spent for a Year, and Found Widespread Financial Vulnerability


Income inequality in the United States is growing, but the most common economic statistics hide a significant portion of Americans’ financial instability by drawing on annual aggregates of income and spending. Annual numbers can hide fluctuations that determine whether families have trouble paying bills or making important investments at a given moment. The lack of access to stable, predictable cash flows is the hard-to-see source of much of today’s economic insecurity.




Chicago – The Cost of Eviction and Unpaid Bills of Financially Insecure Families for City Budgets

Tackling financial exclusion: A country that works for everyone?

Financial wellness at work – A review of promising practices and policies

How FinTech for Good Can Create Financial Health

Pilot Lessons. How to design a basic income pilot project for Ontario

Thrivers and Strugglers: The Balance Sheets and Financial Health of U.S. Families

FINAL REPORT Public Opinion Research to Strengthen Financial Literacy for Seniors

Child Rich Communities: Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Bright Spots’

Thriving but Still Vulnerable in the U.S.

Working Hard but Still Struggling

Vulnerable Households and the Smart Grid in Ontario Emerging Challenges and Opportunities

Canadians living pay cheque to pay cheque, challenged by debt and economy, payroll survey finds

Relying on Erratic Income Sources

Getting By With Limited Resources

Keeping Control by Relying on Cash

Spikes and Dips: How Income Uncertainty Affects Households

Aboriginal Life Skills and Financial Literacy Curriculum Development and Education

Fringe Financial Institutions, The Unbanked, and the Precariously Banked: Survey Results from Prince George, B.C.

All In: Building the Path to Global Prosperity Through Financial Capability and Inclusion

Financial Stability through Integration of Service Delivery

Taking Back Our Neighbourhoods: Mapping the Need for Neighbourhood Revitalization

The Opportunity Equation: Building opportunity in the face of growing income inequality

The destructive legacy of housing segregation

Towards a Comprehensive and Inclusive Consumer Protection Framework for Canada. Submission to Finance Canada

Financial Empowerment: Proven Strategies for Reducing Poverty in Ontario

Financial Empowerment: Improving financial outcomes for low-income households

Financial Empowerment is a new approach to poverty reduction that focuses on improving the financial security of low-income people. It is an evidence-driven set of interventions that have proven successful at both eliminating systemic barriers to the full financial inclusion of low-income people and providing enabling supports that help them to acquire and practice the financial skills and behaviours that tangibly improve their financial outcomes and build their financial security. The Financial Empowerment approach focuses on community level strategies that encompass five main types of interventions that have been identified as both necessary for low-income households to improve their financial outcomes, and effective at helping them to do so.


Financial Empowerment is a new approach to poverty reduction that focuses on improving the financial security of low-income people. It is an evidence-driven set of interventions that have proven successful at both eliminating systemic barriers to the full financial inclusion of low-income people and providing enabling supports that help them to acquire and practice the financial skills and behaviours that tangibly improve their financial outcomes and build their financial security. The Financial Empowerment approach focuses on community level strategies that encompass five main types of interventions that have been identified as both necessary for low-income households to improve their financial outcomes, and effective at helping them to do so.





Financial Empowerment is a new approach to poverty reduction that focuses on improving the financial security of low-income people. It is an evidence-driven set of interventions that have proven successful at both eliminating systemic barriers to the full financial inclusion of low-income people and providing enabling supports that help them to acquire and practice the financial skills and behaviours that tangibly improve their financial outcomes and build their financial security. The Financial Empowerment approach focuses on community level strategies that encompass five main types of interventions that have been identified as both necessary for low-income households to improve their financial outcomes, and effective at helping them to do so.




Financial Literacy and People Living on Low Incomes

Health Check: Low-income Household Finances in Canada

The case for Financial Literacy: Assessing the effects of financial literacy interventions for low income and vulnerable groups in Canada

Is it the Best of Times or the Worst? A Tale of Two Trends

The Role of Emergency Savings in Family Financial Security: Barriers to Saving and Policy Opportunities

The Role of Emergency Savings in Family Financial Security: What Resources do Families Have for Financial Emergencies?

The Role of Emergency Savings in Family Financial Security: How do Families Cope with Financial Shocks?

The Precarious State of Family Balance Sheets

Moving On Up: Why Do Some Americans Leave the Bottom of the Economic Ladder, but Not Others?

Building an Equitable Tax Code: A Primer for Advocates

Unsteady Incomes Keep Millions Behind on Bills

Taking the First Step: Using Behavioral Economics to Help Incarcerated Parents Apply for Child Support Order Modifications

NYC’s Paid Sick Leave Law: First Year Milestones

Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs. Strategy #5: Integrating Asset Building

Debt and the Racial Wealth Gap

Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities. Findings from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation 2012 National Financial Capability Study

The Panel Study of Income Dynamics: overview, recent innovations, and potential for life course research

The Real Cost of Payday Lending

Since the early 1990s payday lending businesses have become increasingly prolific in most parts of Canada, including Calgary. Social agencies and advocates working to reduce poverty view payday lenders and other fringe financial businesses as problematic for those looking to exit the cycle of poverty. Payday lenders charge interest rates that, when annualized, top 400%. The industry justifies this by stating that comparisons to an annual rate are unfair as loans are not meant to or allowed to last longer than two months. However, the fact remains that these businesses charge far more for credit than mainstream financial institutions and are more prevalent in lower income neighbourhoods.



Emerging Models and Promising Practices: A “snapshot” of Community-based financial capability Practice in Canada

Financial Capability in the United States 2016

Considering A Payday Loan? 10 Questions To Ask


If you’re short on cash, a payday loan may seem like a quick way to get money, but there is a high cost. Fees on payday loans are generally much higher than those on other forms of credit, and they will take a big bite out of your budget. Make sure you have all the facts about a payday loan by asking the following questions.


Payday Loans: An Expensive Way to Borrow

2013 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households

The Color of Wealth in Boston: A Joint Publication with Duke University and The New School

The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles

The Tenuous Segment: 29 Million Coping, with Little Buffer for Financial Hurdles

How the CFPB is Proposing to Regulate the Small Dollar Lending Industry. Understanding and Supporting the Payday Lending Rules.

Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America

The Financially At Risk: Understanding the 12% of America That Experiences the Most Financial Stress

The Financially Unengaged: Reaching the 16% of Americans Who Aren’t In Touch With Their Financial Standing

Empowering low income and economically vulnerable consumers

Recent Trends in the Variability of Individual Earnings and Household Income

A New Framework for Achieving Household Financial Security

Increasing Financial Well-Being through Integration: Gaining and Retaining Employment

Programs, Policies, Partnerships: Coming Together to Heal the Racial Wealth Divide

The Steep Climb to Economic Opportunity for Vulnerable Families

Highlights of The Case for Financial Literacy