Financial literacy initiatives and a wide range of capital accumulation plan options are key components in supporting the financial health of midwives, said Nicole Mellin, executive director of the Association of Ontario Midwives Benefits Trust (pictured left), during a session at Benefits Canada’s 2024 Defined Contribution Plan Summit in February.

The association provides its roughly 1,100 members with retirement savings solutions including a group registered retirement savings plan, a group tax-free savings account, a non-registered investment account and a group registered retirement income fund.

Read: Employers can leverage choice, education to help close pension gap among BIPOC workers

A 2022 survey found the association’s members are at varying stages in their respective financial journeys. While younger respondents said they’re focusing on paying down student debt and starting to think about retirement savings, midwives between ages 31 and 49 were most likely to say they’re saving for a home or their children’s education and those aged 50 and older were beginning to look at decumulating their retirement savings.

Financial literacy is particularly important for these self-employed, frontline health-care workers, she said, adding representation of the LGBTQ2S+ and Black, Indigenous and people of colour communities is growing among Ontario’s midwives.

“We know that women earn less than their male counterparts, approximately 87 cents for every dollar a male makes, according to the government of Canada. We also know [women] have a lower tolerance for risk when it comes to savings and investing. . . . And when we think about parental leaves or sabbatical leaves or disability leaves, [the impact] over [the course of] their career can be profound when it comes to the future financial savings.”

Read: How employers can help shrink Canada’s gender pension gap

To communicate its financial literacy offering, the association worked with its advisor, Desjardins Insurance, to create a digital marketing campaign and curated a diverse group of champions to get the word out to colleagues. So far, roughly 10 per cent of members have participated in the program.

Also speaking during the session, Jennifer Katzsch, regional vice-president of client relations and education at Desjardins Insurance (pictured right), said the role of the DC plan sponsor has evolved over the last 20 years.

Plan member engagement is a constant challenge and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, she said, noting communications, education modules and tools need to be flexible to meet the plan member where they’re at in their financial literacy journey.

“It’s the idea of really treating each plan member as a group of one. Advice and financial planning need to be part of the ongoing conversation to support these plan members. The environment in which members are looking to save for the future has grown more complex, but let’s be honest — the concept of financial planning or the people’s perception of financial planning can also be a bit confusing.”

Read more coverage of the 2024 DC Plan Summit.