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Family Financial Health Community Learning Course at TRU is Helping Ukrainians to navigate Canadian Financial Systems by Linking their Knowledge from Ukraine to New Environment in Canada

Two university professors from Ukraine and Canada partnered to offer a new course for Ukrainians who came to Canada after russian aggression and the expansion of the war in Ukraine. A  first-of-its-kind international collaboration between social work and finance fields of practice to help people from Ukraine improve their financial resilience in Canada

Kamloops, BC, September 23, 2022—When Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov started offering community English learning classes for temporarily displaced Ukrainians, Maksym  Gorikhovskyi, attended a few of the lectures. Some participants shared their challenges while navigating financial systems outside of Ukraine during classes. One of the challenges is the lack of information in the Ukrainian language about financial services available for newcomers in Canada and the overall low level of financial literacy in Ukraine. This discussion sparked a new partnership between Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Education and Social Work in Canada and the Professional College of Economics, Law and Information Technologies of Kamyanets-Podilsky Tax Institute in Ukraine.

Dr. Kondrashov has taught a Family Financial Health course at the Family Social Science Department at the University of Manitoba. The course surveyed topics that impact Canadian families’ financial health, including personal money management, mortgage financing, credit and debt, educational and retirement planning, taxation, insurance, savings and investments. Students who took the course become better prepared to help families maximize resources and increase their financial literacy. In many European countries, financial counsellors already have legal, commercial and social work qualifications. However, in Canada, the collaboration between finance and social work fields of practice is still underdeveloped, and social work students often lack courses that explore topics related to family financial health. In contrast, people who study finance lack social work practice skills.

Dr. Gorikhovskyi teaches financial management courses in Ukraine, where the financial system has been developed in the last 30 years. However, many Ukrainians as well as other newcomers to Canada, are unfamiliar with personal finances, banking and taxation services and need a lot of guidance to build their financial literacy and resilience. Dr. Gorikhovskyi offers ten ways this course will be helpful for those who want to strengthen their financial resilience in Canada.

1. Define financial goals and ways to achieve them. The easiest way to organize family finances is first to determine what you are trying to achieve financially. Dr. Gorikhovskyi shares, “If I have a number I’m aiming for, chances are I’ll hit that number. For example, when I’m planning a family vacation, I come up with the cost of the vacation and then start saving weekly or monthly to reach that goal. This requires me to do some planning and some thoughtfulness in my numbers”.

2. Create your own budget with monthly income and spending plan. Once you’ve set your goals, track your monthly expenses. Now it’s time to divide your financial resources into categories. As you set your budget, not a penny should be left.

3. Monitor and analyze own expenses. Tracking expenses is painstaking work; fortunately, we live in the digital age. When literally the whole world is on your phone or laptop. There are so many apps for tracking your expenses, so there’s no excuse for neglecting them. This will help open your eyes to how much money you spend on certain things. We will review some of the apps that can monitor your financial health

4. Orient yourself in the Canadian taxation system. Understanding the tax system is essential to plan your stay in Canada. Taxes include income tax, sales tax, real estate tax, business tax and others. These taxes help pay for government programs and services, such as health care, public safety, roads, schools, various welfare benefits, and pensions. The taxation system is not only about taxes but how Canada’s safety and social security systems are working and the ability to use all the system’s benefits.

5. Understand how banks work. When the bank is your friend, not your enemy. You will understand a credit score, why it is important in Canada, and how to correctly use credit cards and make payments and transfers in Canada and Ukraine’s banking systems. How to use a mortgage when buying your own home?

7. Insurance is an advantage, not a cost. The insurance system in Canada is very widely developed and affects the life of every Canadian. This is largely because some insurances are mandatory. The second reason is that in the event of certain tragic circumstances, insurance helps to cope with costs that occur in times of unexpected situations. You will be able to understand different types of insurance and the mechanisms of its work.

8. Build your own bill payment system. Separate bank accounts for different expenses. It is essential to have a sound bill payment system. Dr. Gorikhovskyi shares, “I have a mortgage payment account, a Christmas fund account, a vacation fund account, etc. I do this because it’s easy to see how much money is going towards certain expenses and how much money I’m spending on certain items. It also makes it difficult to make spending decisions when transferring money from one account to pay for something else”.

9. Monitor account statements for fraud, errors or changes. Look at your monthly expenses on your bank credit card statements. Also, check if you’ve started a free trial of an app, program, or video service that requires your credit card and never cancel it.

10. Communicate with your significant other, and plan your own life and retirement. If you decide to open a checking account or consolidate your finances, be prepared to talk to your significant other about what’s happening. If you use credit cards without telling the other, your expenses will add up. Prepare a financial plan to face old age richly.

The new community learning course initiative will be available as a lecture series via Zoom where Maksym and Sasha will share their expertise and allow course participants to learn about financial resilience in Canada and Ukraine. In the first hour of each class, Dr. Kondrashov will share material from the family financial health course in English and participants will learn how to live translate using Google and Zoom services. During the second hour, Dr. Kondrashov and Dr. Gorikhovskyi will answer questions on topics discussed in the first part of the lecture in English and Ukrainian and show examples of how to apply the knowledge using resources from leading banks in Canada and Ukraine.

The course is open to anyone who wants to improve their family’s financial health. Dr. Kondrashov says that “although course knowledge can benefit any newcomer to Canada, this version of the course will be primarily beneficial for anyone who came recently from Ukraine. The second hour of each lecture will only be delivered in Ukrainian, where Maksym and I will answer questions, share our extensive knowledge, and compare Canadian and Ukrainian financial services”.

Please visit Dr. Kondrashov’s website https://krasun.ca/i-love-family-finance/ and fill in the Zoom registration form for anyone interested in taking the course. The course access fees are waived for all participants. However, only 20 participants will be able to join the Zoom live lectures on selected Fridays, starting from Friday, September 23rd at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time / 20:00 Kyiv Time. The link with Livestream and chat capabilities for questions will be sent to all registered participants to ensure everyone who wants to learn will have access to the course recordings.