Our History

Inspired By The Extraordinary Power of Personal Financial Well-Being

Trusted by Canadians since 1968

Our extensive expertise comes from a great many years of working closely with Canadian consumers, agencies and financial practitioners in the counselling field and with the credit, debt and insolvency industries.

We focus on the certification of financial practitioners, the accreditation of agencies, financial counselling education, research and advancing policy initiatives.

Representing our industry, we provide in-depth perspectives about personal finance including making recommendations to legislative and policy matters at the federal, provincial and local levels of government.

The Early Years – 1930’s to 1970’s

  • Community service agencies help provide the necessities of life, such as food and clothing, to people in financial crisis.
  • Community groups, social planning councils, credit grantors associations and family service organizations sponsor Credit Counselling Agencies to provide budget counselling to help families manage their own finances and acquire the skills to meet their needs independently.
  • Select Committee of the Ontario Legislature on Consumer Credit made recommendations which lead to the Consumer Protection Act that includes “to promote and assist existing counselling services in respect to consumer credit”.
  • Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services (OACCS) formed.
  • Credit Counselling agencies receive 40% of budget government support to a $5000 maximum.
  • Government responsibility for credit counselling transferred to the Department of Social and Family Services for Ontario, supported by the federal department of National Health and Welfare, Canada Assistance Plan.  Government funding grows to 60% of budget with 40% from the United Way, local grants, credit grantors, labour and voluntary donations.
  • OACCS starts development of standards and training for the Credit Counselling sector.
  • OACCS opens first office, develops workshops and issues manuals for Credit Counsellors with guidelines and standards, interviewing techniques and performance appraisal requirements.
  • Advocacy takes place provincially and federally regarding proposed changes to the Bankruptcy Act.

1980’s

  • OACCS develops its unique Accreditation Program for Agencies, becoming the first voluntary non-profit Credit Counselling association in North America to accredit its members.
  • Training and education heightens in priority with educational sessions and updating of training materials, consumer education and public relations brochures and posters, legislation manuals and tools for Counsellors.
  • Computer software programs designed and introduced to assist agencies with providing services.
  • OACCS launches telephone counselling service (ACCESS) for Ontarians who are unable to visit a community agency to get help.

1990’s

  • First Agency Accreditation review takes place.
  • Connections newsletter started with circulation across Canada, the United States and points abroad.
  • As part of wide-sweeping cut-backs by the Rae provincial government, government funding is withdrawn for not-for-profit credit counselling agencies.
  • Funding void augmented through donations from creditors and support from United Way, local municipal governments and client fees making it possible to continue agency operations.
  • Royal assent gives OACCS its own legislation; An Act Respecting the Ontario Association of Not-for-Profit Credit Counselling Services, becoming the legislative voice for not-for-profit Credit Counselling. It is the only Act of its kind in North America.
  • Industry Canada contracts OACCS to design and develop the Insolvency Counsellor’s Qualification Course (ICQC) for the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

2000’s

  • Research, design and development of a Certification designation for Counsellors begins.
  • CEO submits recommendations and serves as an expert witness at Senate Hearings before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in Ottawa about proposed changes to Bill S-19 regarding the Criminal Interest Rate.
  • CEO invited by Minister Gerry Philips, MPP to join the Consumer Advisory Council of the Minister of Government Services.
  • Counsellor Certification launched in Canada, the highest professional designation for Credit Counsellors, with the Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada designation, the BIA Insolvency Act Insolvency Counsellor’s Qualification Course designation and extensive work experience requirement.
  • Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada (AFCC) designation becomes available to financial practitioners across Canada.
  • CEO continues as member of the Minister of Government Services Consumer Advisory Council.
  • Launch of the Financial Fitness and Financial Fitness Coach brand, logo, tagline, “What Shape Are You In?” and the positioning of financial health as an essential life skill for Canadians.
  • Partner with Environics Research Group to develop research about the Financial Fitness levels of Canadians.
  • First annual benchmark research released, the Financial Fitness Index, to illustrate the degree of Canadian personal financial fitness.
  • Collaborative formed between OACCS, Social Enterprise Development Innovations and Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres to deliver the Financial Capability for Youth project.
  • Counsellor Certification through OACCS gains recognition for raising the bar for Financial Practitioner expertise in the financial counselling industry.
  • Financial Fitness website, Financial Fitness video and Financial Fitness You Tube channel launched.
  • CEO continues as member of the Minister of Government Services Consumer Advisory Council.
  • CEO participates in consultations for the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Consumer Measures Committee.
  • OACCS submits recommendations for Harmonizing of Legislative Measures for Credit Reporting in Canada.
  • Second and third annual benchmark research, the Financial Fitness Index, released to illustrate the degree of Canadian personal financial fitness.
  • OACCS submits recommendations and CEO serves as an expert witness at Senate Hearings before the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in Ottawa about important amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.
  • CEO continues as member of the Minister of Government Services Consumer Advisory Council.
  • CEO meets with HRSDC in Ottawa to explore partnering opportunities concerning Student Loans and Financial Literacy.
  • CEO meets with insolvency industry, the Superintendent of Bankruptcy and the Assistant Deputy Minister of Small Business and Marketplace Services in Ottawa to discuss trends and issues relating to debtors, insolvency levels and consumer confidence in managing debt loads.
  • Launch of the Canadian Association for Credit Counselling Services (CACCS) with Industry Canada approval, based on the legacy foundation of OACCS which gave birth to the not-for-profit credit counselling service sector.
  • OACCS submits recommendations to the Maximum Cost of Borrowing Advisory Board concerning Payday Loan Agreements in Ontario.
  • CACCS gains recognition with OACCS as its strong affiliate, to serve as the national voice for not-for-profit Credit Counselling and set the Canadian standard for the sector in the financial counselling industry.
  • Financial Fitness and Problem Gambling Online Course developed and launched in partnership with the Centre for Adduction and Mental Health.

2010’s

  • CEO continues as member of the Minister of Government Services Consumer Advisory Council.
  • OACCS submits recommendations to the Minister of Consumer Services regarding the Payday Lending Education Fund.
  • CACCS conducts discussions with the Superintendent of Bankruptcy office in Ottawa concerning Bankruptcy Counselling fees.
  • CEO helps to secure a Trillium Foundation grant to form a third-party Accrediting body together with other prominent social service providers.
  • CACCS submits recommendations to improve credit ratings for clients who complete a DMP to the Consumer Measures Committee of Industry Canada.
  • 9 individual years of annual benchmark research, the Financial Fitness Index, released to illustrate the degree of Canadian personal financial fitness.
  • Debut of Financial Fitness “What Shape Are You In?” video on our Financial Fitness YouTube channel.
  • OACCS presents credit counselling service resources to the Responsible Gambling Resource Centres.
  • Financial Fitness Day launched to raise national awareness of financial literacy through seminars and instructional videos.
  • CACCS submits recommendations to the federal Task Force on Financial Literacy and presents at Task Force Hearings in Ottawa.
  • OACCS collaborates with provincial Working Group on Financial Literacy.
  • Financial Fitness Score assessment tool, based on attitudinal and behavioural questions developed from financial fitness data, celebrates its first year of helping Canadians determine how well they are managing their finances.
  • On-line training and education introduced, including the Financial Fitness Coaching and Problem Gambling Program.
  • CEO launches advocacy to stem debt settlement abusive practices, press release issued, “An Urgent Matter of Consumer Protection: Canadian Lawmakers Must Address the Growing Controversy Surrounding Debt Settlement Services” and meets with ten senior government officials at Queen’s Park to discuss regulating debt settlement companies.
  • CEO launches advocacy with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy to pursue a greater role for credit counselling within the Insolvency framework.
  • CACCS launches new website.
  • CEO attends Law Commission of Ontario consultation session about industry regulation.
  • Research conducted through Equifax Canada and publicly released about “Consumers who use Credit Counselling Services Outperform Average Canadians”, with improved credit scores and lower delinquency rates.
  • CEO advocates for Canada-wide debt settlement regulation at a meeting of the Members of the Legislative Assembly in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • CEO presented at Queen’s Park before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly regarding Bill 55, “An Act to amend the Collections Agencies Act, the Consumer Protection Act, 2002, and the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002” and to make other consequential amendments to other Acts.
  • CACCS issued report of recommendations to Industry Canada for Improvements to Insolvency Counselling.
  • Royal assent granted for Bill 55, “Debt Settlement, Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act”.
  • CEO presents as Panelist with economic and housing industry experts during National Homeownership Education Week highlighting the Financial Fitness
  • OACCS launches new website.
  • CACCS launches Credit Rating Reform advocacy initiative to improve credit ratings fairness for consumers and creates an industry Working Group.
  • Championed OACCS Credit Counselling Program Standards for the sector as a founding member and board member of the new Canadian Centre for Accreditation.
  • OACCS submits recommendations to provincial consultation concerning Debt Settlement Services Draft and Debt Settlement Legislation, Regulations and Payday Loans Act.
  • OACCS introduces Academic membership class for individuals who are interested in professional development, continuing education and research in our field.
  • OACCS submits recommendations to federal consultation concerning Draft Directive, Trustee Designation and Advertising.
  • OACCS submits recommendations to provincial consultation concerning Improving Protection for Consumers using Alternative Financial Services.
  • OACCS wins Consumer Choice Award.
  • OACCS submits recommendations to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for proposed regulations, Maximum Total Cost of Borrowing a Payday Loan, draft regulation for Lower Rates for Payday Loans and commentary regarding Payday Loan Cost of Borrowing review.
  • CEO advocates for expanded service delivery channels based on extensive research about DMP Success Based on Service Modality.
  • OACCS develops the United Financial Professionals concept in support of academic membership.
  • OACCS wins second Consumer Choice Award.
  • OACCS submits recommendations for the Collections and Debt Settlement Services Act Regulation Reform including Bill 59, “The Putting Consumers First Act” (Consumer Protection Statute Law Amendment).
  • OACCS submits recommendations to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for changes to the regulations under the Payday Loans Act, 2002 and the Consumer Protection Act, 2002.
  • OACCS wins third Consumer Choice Award.
  • Academy Learning labs launched to support professional development of Financial Practitioners.
  • CACCS responds to proposed revisions to Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) Directive 1R3, Counselling in Insolvency Matters.
  • CEO participates in on-going discussions with the Office of the Superintendent regarding the proposed Directive 1R3, Counselling in Insolvency Matters.
  • Launch of new website, Financialfitness.ca.

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