Improving the financial health of our province’s youth one program at a time

A new program hopes to address the link between financial health and physical and mental health

By Krista Sylvester | December 7, 2021 |6:10 pm

The goal of the Building Futures in Alberta program is to support teachers in their efforts to help prepare students to build a healthy financial future.

Photo: Shutterstock

Happy, healthy, successful financial futures are not just a myth — it’s possible, and the link between financial health and physical and mental health has never been more evident. 

That’s why the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE) announced a partnership with the Government of Alberta to launch new free resources and programs for educators and young people to support financial literacy. 

Dubbed “Building Futures in Alberta,” this new program is designed to improve the financial literacy of the province’s youth, according to Gary Rabbior, president of CFEE, which is a non-profit organization founded in 1974 that works to improve economic and financial literacy. 

The building blocks for a better future 

Rabbior says the organization was thrilled to be chosen as one of the organizations to receive support to assist the government’s efforts to improve the financial literacy of Alberta youth.

“CFEE has been working for many years to improve financial literacy in Canada and we have the experience, expertise, resources, and programs to support Alberta teachers in their important work,” he says. 

“We believe the wide range of resources and programs available through the “Building Futures in Alberta” program will help address the varying needs of teachers who are teaching different grades, different subjects, and in different situations.”

The importance of improving financial capability and literacy will enable a generation of young people to stay in control of their finances, avoid stress and anxiety, and develop practical tools to help lead to happier, healthier lives, Rabbior adds. 

Why this is important 

The importance of improving financial capability and literacy goes beyond calculating interest, using an ATM properly, and picking the right credit card. 

Research is clearly showing a strong link between financial health and physical and mental health. Prolonged periods of financial stress and anxiety are significantly impacting the lives of many Canadians. 

In contrast, making financial decisions that enable one to stay in control of their finances, avoid stress and anxiety, live within their means, set goals, make plans to achieve them, and establish a strong sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy, all help lead to happier, healthier lives – mentally and physically.

That’s why efforts to improve the financial literacy of Alberta’s youth is critical, says the CFEE

“Not only to make good, informed financial decisions but to know how to stay in control of their financial lives – knowing where their money is going, working with a budget, setting goals, making trade-offs, living within their means, and setting manageable debt limits.” 

Alberta’s Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange says the government is committed to ensuring students have the practical skills and knowledge they will need to navigate financial decisions. 

“Through partnerships with organizations like CFEE, students will study important financial concepts such as costs, interest, debt, investing, insurance and how the economy affects their lives,” she says. 

A snippet of what to expect 

The Building Futures website provides teachers with access to:

– A “Learning Framework” – that is, “What to Teach” – key money topics and suggested areas of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours that are regarded as important for youth;

 – A “Learning Map” – that is, “Where to Teach” – suggested integration points in the Alberta school curriculum where instruction can take place;

– “Teaching Units/Lesson Plans” – that is, “How to Teach” providing support resources for teachers to make it easier to integrate financial instruction

It will also provide teachers and students with access to other programs such as FinLit 101, Money and Youth, Guide to Financial Literacy for Youth, Money Laughs, and the My Money, My Future Challenge, just to name a few. There is also a Monthly Money Quiz. 

The partnership also includes support from key financial institutions in Canada, including National Bank, IG Wealth Management, CIBC and Fonds de solidarité,

Here is a video overview of the “Building Futures in Alberta” program. 

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Krista Sylvester

Reporter at Calgary Citizen

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