Families and individuals need income to get by and assets to get ahead. Calgarians should have the support they need to optimize their incomes, increase their financial assets and reduce their debt while preserving their integrity and dignity.
A range of opportunities and supports are needed to support households to increase income and build a cushion of savings that contributes to long term resiliency. Economic and financial resiliency requires adequate income, knowledge of and access to affordable financial products and services, as well as supports and incentives to encourage savings and file personal income tax claims.
Without these supports, many Calgarians are unable to build the financial cushion required for long-term resiliency, especially if their employment situation is not consistent. For this reason, Enough for All’s partners aim to combat financial instability at its root by encouraging education and confidence in financial matters.
In Canada, the personal income tax system has become an important way for the government to deliver income support benefits, like the Canada Child Benefit and GST refunds. By not filing, many individuals and families may be losing out on thousands of dollars in benefits, which have been set up to help those in need. For the 2021 tax season, many community organizations are hosting free virtual tax clinics. Volunteers can help eligible people complete and file taxes for free, by videoconference, by phone or through a document drop-off arrangement.
Aspire is Calgary's financial empowerment collaborative. They work together to address the root causes of poverty while responding to the immediate needs of individuals living on a low income. This is done by designing and delivering Financial Empowerment programs, influencing policy change at multiple levels of government and scaling Financial Empowerment across broad systems.
On some level, poverty is always about overcoming financial hurdles. But to get to the root of why finances can be such a struggle for Calgarians, we must first acknowledge that many people in our city lack the education required to feel confident facing life’s financial challenges. Enough For All’s partner Aspire Calgary facilitates programming with all 30+ of its cross-sector partners, each offering services in one or more of four key areas to low-income Calgarians:
By educating and assisting Calgarians in these areas, Aspire builds confidence and capability in adults and prepares them for self-sustainability.
Collaborative efforts are calling on reforms to address the impact of the use of payday loan and fringe financial businesses on low-income Calgarians. In The Real Cost of Payday Lending, research found that payday lenders charge interest rates that top 400% when annualized and are largely located in lower income neighbourhoods. A collaborative known as the Rise of the Cash Store Committee was convened to work with all orders of government to explore policy recommendations that could change the tides on the exploitative practices found within the payday lending industry. Recommendations included changing the allowable density of payday lending businesses in any given area, convene banking institutions to offer affordable products and services at reasonable interest rates and to reduce interest rate levels below the federal 60% maximum.
A challenging economy and the pandemic have disproportionately affected women and their families, but there’s hope for a better future