Demand for Financial Coaching soars amidst COVID-19 fallout.

Agency braces for further increases as benefits and deferrals wind down.

VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Canadians with increased financial struggles and mounting debt levels. And while emergency benefits have helped many manage financially through these difficult times, a large number of Canadians continue to struggle due to high unemployment and mounting debt levels.

This November is the 10th annual national Financial Literacy Month, highlighting the need for all Canadians to make better, more informed financial decisions.  This month-long event encourages Canadians to gain a better understanding of their finances and develop good financial habits that contribute to their wellbeing, through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Financial anxiety is at the heart of the COVID-19 crisis. The hardest hit are those with the least resources, but even higher income workers are feeling the strains of this new financial and employment landscape. Households have relied on income supports, bill payment deferrals and personal savings just to make ends meet.

An Angus Reid/BDO Canada affordability index poll found that nearly two in five said their personal finances deteriorated during the first wave of COVID-19, compared to one in five Canadians who said they are better off.  Those who are worse off were nearly four times more likely to say their debt load is overwhelming, with residents of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario most likely to be accruing debt through the pandemic.

For almost 20 years, Family Services of Greater Vancouver’s (FSGV) Financial Empowerment Program has coached low-income community members to develop the skills and confidence to make the most of their money with one-on-one coaching, workshops and other essential resources.

In response to the pandemic, FSGV launched the COVID-19 Money Navigator, increasing accessibility to financial empowerment support through a free help line that offers assistance to those seeking support with their finances. This province-wide toll-free line and online resource has allowed British Columbians to access trusted information and personalized coaching to help them navigate the crisis.

Since the start of COVID-19, FSGV has seen a more than tripling of their Financial Empowerment coaching clients. While many were initially seeking assistance navigating the confusing array of available government benefits, an increasing number are now looking for assistance with managing debt and bill payments as many benefit and deferral programs come to an end.  FSGV’s free financial coaching and workshops offer topics ranging from accessing benefits, managing debt, budgeting, and financial goal setting, to setting up a savings and investment plan. 

“Financial literacy empowers individuals make better, more informed financial decisions based on fact rather than on a sales pitch,” says Murray Baker, Manager of Financial Empowerment at FGSV.  “Now more than ever, low-income individuals and families need this support. Being a non-profit social service agency that does not sell any financial products or services, allows FSGV to maintain objectivity in the information that we provide to our clients.”

Financial Literacy Month promotes the essential financial empowerment support that makes a practical difference for low-income individuals and families.


About Family Services of Greater Vancouver

Founded in 1928, Family Services of Greater Vancouver is one of BC’s largest social services organizations. Last year alone we served over 12,000 families, youth, children, seniors, and newcomers at 14 locations across Metro Vancouver. Family Services’ over 50 programs and services work to end violence against women, children and seniors through victims services and specialized counselling; supporting homeless and at-risk youth with services including detox, housing, and pre-employment programs; creating more inclusive and resilient communities through free financial empowerment support, parenting workshops, groups and community kitchens; supporting youth with developmental disabilities and their families become more independent; and supporting at-risk families facing multiple challenges.

About Murray Baker, Manager, Financial Empowerment:

Murray is a leading authority on student financial planning and author of the bestseller, The Debt Free GraduateHow to Survive College or University Without Going Broke (HarperCollins) – now in it’s 14th edition, with over 200,000 copies sold.

Murray is a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. He has shared his expertise in financial literacy in more than 400 media interviews for print and TV, has contributed to several financial and higher education publications including; Money Secrets (Readers Digest), Achieving Student Success: Effective Student Services in Canadian Higher Education (McGill-Queen’s University Press), authored reports such as Earning While LearningThe growing financial pressure and its impact on B.C.’s post-secondary students (September, 2017) and developed the federal government’s original, financial planning for post-secondary education, website.

Possible interview topics:

  • Managing your debt: Strategies for staying afloat and paying it off
  • Building a contingency fund to weather financial storms
  • Setting up a budget: Strategies for living within your means
  • Setting up a financial savings plan: Setting goals and developing a plan to reach them
  • Protecting yourself against frauds and scams during the pandemic

To learn more about FSGV, visit

For the COVID-19 Money Navigator, visit



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01-FSGV Financial Literacy Month 2020.pdf