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A path to financial security: Danielle's experience in Durham region

26 September 2023
Author: Anitha Thillainathan
In a recent interview with Danielle Thibaudeau from the Commissioner of Social Services’s Office at The Regional Municipality of Durham, Prosper Canada delved into the world of financial empowerment and the unique challenges faced by low-income Canadians. Danielle, Policy Advisor in the Strategic Partnerships and Priority Teams within the Social Services Department Commissioner's Office, shared her insights into the importance of financial resources, collaborations with non-profits like Prosper Canada, and the impact of the Making the Most of Your Money resource. The resource is a free online course designed to help individuals and families living with low income learn about money in an accessible way. It was developed by Prosper Canada with the generous financial support from Ontario Securities Commission and has been implemented by the Region of Durham to facilitate financial education within its community.

Danielle's organization and its mission 

Danielle works for the Region of Durham, a regional government serving eight area municipalities. The organization's mission revolves around delivering service excellence, promoting leadership, collaboration, innovation, and environmental stewardship. A key focus of their vision is to foster a healthy and prosperous community, with a particular emphasis on poverty reduction. 

The importance of relevant financial information for low-income Canadians 

With over 45,000 residents in Durham region living with low income, Danielle highlighted the critical need for providing relevant financial information. Low-income individuals often face complex financial decisions daily, making it challenging to plan for their financial futures. She emphasized that the financial system can be complex, and providing accessible, easy-to-understand financial information empowers people with low income to make informed choices. 

Collaborating with non-profits for mission success 

Danielle stressed the importance of collaboration with other organizations and non-profits like Prosper Canada. These partnerships strengthen initiatives, expand outreach, and leverage expertise. One notable partnership is the Community Tax Clinic Community of Practice Group, which has significantly increased the number of tax returns filed for residents with low income. Highlighting this collaboration, Danielle explained how her team worked with Prosper Canada to implement supported group filing clinics for clients. These clinics provided the necessary technology and tools to help people file their taxes, along with workshops to boost their confidence in tax filing. 

Unique features of the Making the Most of Your Money resource 

For Danielle, the Making the Most of Your Money resource stands out because it's specifically designed for individuals and families with low income. She notes the resource is user-friendly and accessible online, allowing people to progress at their own pace, which is crucial because everyone has different schedules and commitments. Moreover, she points out that each section of the course can be downloaded as a PDF, providing an option for those who may not be comfortable with computers or have regular access to one. This flexibility in delivery, both online and offline, caters to various learning preferences and needs. 

Danielle further highlighted the resources’ effectiveness in explaining complex topics like debt and credit. It utilizes elements of plain language and presents information in an engaging manner. This approach ensures that individuals from all walks of life can access and benefit from this valuable resource. 

Future goals for the resource 

Danielle envisions incorporating the resource into training for case workers who support low-income clients, enabling them to guide clients through the course's activities. The course will continue to be promoted on their "Living with Low Income" web page, raising awareness and accessibility. 

Challenges and solutions 

A challenge that she has identified when implementing the course within the organization is time. She believes staff may need time to familiarize themselves with the course before sharing it with clients. To address this, a thoughtful approach to integration and training will be essential. 
How others can get involved 
Danielle recommended that other organizations reflect on their existing practices and explore opportunities to embed financial empowerment. Learning from successful initiatives and connecting with community resources and organizations can help expand financial empowerment efforts. Utilizing resources like Prosper Canada's Learning Hub and joining communities of practice can provide valuable insights and connections. 
Final Thoughts 

Danielle expressed her enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and experiences, emphasizing the importance of platforms like this interview series to spread valuable insights and tools throughout the community. 

Danielle's perspective sheds light on the crucial role of relevant financial information, collaborations, and accessible resources in empowering low-income communities. The Making the Most of Your Money resource offers practical solutions to the unique financial challenges faced by these communities, with the potential to transform lives and build a more prosperous future. 
About The Regional Municipality of Durham's Social Services Department 

The department has six divisions committed to delivering professional and high-quality services. Many residents across Durham Region will need one or more of these services at some point in their life. Social Services’ principles of care, excellence, learning and leadership are the foundation of its programs and services. 


Anitha Thillainathan is a Senior Officer, Marketing and Communications at Prosper Canada.

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