It was late in 2015 and Calgary was in the midst of a major economic downturn. Oil prices had fallen dramatically, and huge numbers of employees were being laid off. By some estimations, 100,000 to 150,000 people (a figure roughly equivalent to the population of Red Deer) had lost their jobs over the course of a few months.
At the Calgary Public Library, Leslie Adams, a community learning advocate, knew something was very wrong. “I had library staff in community libraries calling me saying, ‘We have all these people coming in and they need information, they need resources, they’re upset, angry, lost. What can we do?’”
Adams knew exactly what to do. “CPA Canada was already offering free financial literacy presentations to the public at the library. So I asked them if they could put together some resources – on job searching and managing debt and so on – to help steer people through this difficult period,” she says. “And they completely embraced the idea. They asked David Trahair, a CPA and personal finance author, if he could write a guide. He said yes.”
Help and inspiration
The result, says Trahair, was Survive and Thrive, a free downloadable eight-chapter book that covers “everything from the emotional-psychological impact to employment law and how to finance this period of joblessness.” But, he is quick to point out that the idea is to provide an overview rather than going into too much depth on any particular topic. “If you are so overwhelmed you can’t get up in the morning, who cares whether it’s better to use a registered savings plan or a line of credit to get you through this period?”
The guide was launched in November 2016 during Financial Literacy month, and “it was a fantastic event,” says Adams. “We had almost 400 people in our theatre that day who came in to hear more about the resources available, the books, what CPA Canada was doing.”
Respect and commitment
For the library, says Adams, working with CPA Canada was the perfect partnership. “We have a very similar view of good business, and the Canadian Ideal of Good Business,” she says. “We’re both looking to enhance community capacity, build connections within the community, serve communities.” What’s especially appreciated, she says, is the fact that CPA Canada’s volunteers are willing to give their time to offer financial literacy presentations for free. “We have thousands of volunteers at the Calgary Public Library, and we know what’s required to recruit and train and get people out in the community working. And I just love the fact that CPA Canada has such great professional volunteers who treat the role with such respect and commitment.”
Watch the video to learn more about how the creation of Survive and Thrive aligns with the Canadian Ideal of Good Business.