Peter Watts: The Canada Learning Bond and the gift of financial literacy

'Focused, consistent' financial education program needed in schools: money guru
Educators across Canada are increasingly seeing the value of teaching kids the basics of money management at a young age, but some experts warn the patchwork of programs being offered in schools can only go so far in helping students avoid major money pitfalls down the line. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

We all know how expensive post-secondary education can be. We all know that post-secondary education is key to being able to keep up in an ever-changing world.

It follows, then, that putting money aside over a period of years is a gift we can give to our children that will deliver a solid return over the course of their lives.

Which brings us to the Canada Learning Bond (CLB), a federal inducement to us to set up a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). The CLB provides up to $2,000 in a RESP for children from low income families, with no contribution required from the child’s family. That contribution can be supplemented through other after-tax contributions from family members or friends.

“We’ve had this program in place for a number of years and more than a million children are enrolled,” federal cabinet minister, Patty Hajdu, told me. “What we want to do now is reach out to different demographic groups that may not be aware of the program but who could benefit from having their children enrolled.”

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The government is making $7 million available over the next three years to organizations that can come up with ways to get more children enrolled in the program.

I don’t know if some of the financial literacy programs now being considered as part of the Alberta school curriculum review, would qualify.  Regardless, that review should conclude that putting some type of financial literacy component into the school curriculum, should be a priority.

A parent or guardian, however, can start the process when a child is born by investing in a RESP. It might be the best gift a child will ever receive.

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