The Ontario Chamber Network has had a policy resolution on the books for several years now calling for a more focused and dedicated high school curriculum around financial literacy. The resolution peers into the future and suggests that one reason for adjusting the curriculum is that there may be a need for Ontarians with non-traditional
business skills to run their own businesses. Another point made in the resolution is that Canadian household debt hit record levels in 2015 with roughly 80% of the population in debt. Half of all consumer spending (retail and housing) occurs in Ontario and BC alone.
Ultimately, the resolution concludes by urging the Ontario Government to:
- Create a mandatory grade eleven Introduction to Business and Commerce course from existing business and family economics curriculum and designate it as a compulsory credit to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
- Dedicate a specific section of the course to financial literacy. This would include, but not be limited, to personal and family budgeting, the value of credit, mortgages, insurance, debt management, and accountability to pay.
- Promote in all school districts in the province, the Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) program in the area of business and commerce, a ministry-approved specialized program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements to graduate from secondary school.
Let’s break them down.
- A mandatory course in Grade 11 that is required for high school graduation. With volunteer hours now required in order to receive your Ontario Secondary School Diploma, a dedicated financial literacy course certainly has the potential to be the next graduation requirement.
- Dedication to personal and family budgeting basics benefits the economy as a whole by ensuring an educated workforce and consumer-base.
- Here in Peterborough, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School has a Specialist High Skills Major in Aerospace/Aviation. The program offers students nine credits including two for cooperative education. You can find more on the program on the Holy Cross website: hccss.ca. These types of programs, if approved by the Ministry, can help an area develop a workforce that is pertinent to its needs.
Having a population armed with the tools and knowledge to manage finances is a proactive approach to ensuring a productive economy.