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Popular financial literacy program returns to Wood Buffalo

Last Updated Sep 14, 2020 at 2:52 pm MST

IMAGE. The Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo's Financial Literacy Program returns with eight weeks of classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Sept. 17, 2020. Supplied by the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo.

Classes will soon be in session for the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo’s (MCA) Financial Literacy Program.

Partnering with the RMWB and United Way of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo, the program begins Sept. 17 at the Keyano Recital Theatre.

Program Facilitator Jay Falcone said financial literacy is simply understanding Canada’s financial concepts.

“Financial literacy is understanding the way our financial systems in Canada work: The banking system, credit agencies, income tax systems, and having a good understanding of the different investment vehicles that are out there, so you make good financial decisions that hopefully help you and your family’s future.”

Financial Literacy

The program began in 2014 teaching mainly new residents to the region, who were also adapting to the culture, a new occupation, or the weather.

Falcone said the first classes had five or six participants with instructors teaching basic principles on banking, budgeting, and investments.

“Even though the program was intended for new Canadians, we started seeing people that been in the community for years come to the course, and just in the last couple of years we’ve also seen a trend where we had some high school students come because their parents would bring their kids [since] they felt they could use the program.”

Over time, Falcone said enrolment increased to between 30-40 people per class.

MCA also added an advanced or ‘Level Two’ class teaching stocks, real estate, and cryptocurrency.

Falcone said the program is “literally free”.

In past years, some registrants did not attend meetings, while others remained on a waiting list.

Registration is $25, but participants may earn a refund if they attend at least 80 per cent of the classes.

Since 2014, more than 450 participants graduated from the program.

Falcone said the region’s annual Financial Literacy Conference is an example of the program’s success.

“Financial literacy is not a destination, it’s more of a journey, so a lot of the alumni got back together. We’ve had some speakers from all across Canada join us, and it’s an opportunity for individuals in Fort McMurray to not have to go to Calgary or Edmonton to attend that type of conference.”

He added the region continues to build a financial literacy knowledge-base.

Falcone said Keyano Theatre will serve as a new venue to help meet public health guidelines.

Classes for Level One are on Tuesdays and Level Two on Thursdays, with both sets running from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. for eight weeks.

The first class for Level One is Sept. 22, and the first Level Two is Sept. 17.

Residents may sign up for the Financial Literacy Program through the MCA website.