- Our Journey Since CODE 2015


January 18, 2017

Do you have a similar story to share about an app or technology you've developed using Canadian Open Data or Information? We want to hear about it! You can submit your app to our Apps Gallery or email us at with a blog post idea!

- The Open Government Team


By Alfred Yang

In February 2015, I decided to spend a weekend building an app for the Canadian Open Data Experience (CODE). Little did I know it was the beginning of an incredible journey that would become

The Concept: A data-driven approach to post-secondary financial planning

Proliteracy's goal is to help Canadians plan their finances for post-secondary education. This tool not only relates to a significant financial goal for most Canadians, but also showcases a range of datasets including tuition, rent, and living expenses across the country.

Let's illustrate how it works with an example. Let's say you have a 10 year old daughter who is completely fascinated with animals. You have a feeling she may want to study life science one day. You obviously want to give her the best shot at attending a great post-secondary institution. With that goal in mind there are a number of crucial questions that need to be answered:

  • How much money do you need to be saving?
  • What is the cost difference between studying locally versus out of province?
  • What financing options, besides the family's savings, are available?
  • If a student loan is required, what kind of financial burden would that create for the child? is designed to help answer these questions. It starts off by asking you for a few key pieces of information, and then proceeds to make predictions on tuition, cost of living and expenses based on historical data. The end result is a good estimate of the financial target the individual or their family should be aiming for when planning for post-secondary education, along with the funding options available to help them reach it.

Validation: Meeting with Financial Literacy Experts

Following CODE 2015, the Treasury Board Secretariat introduced our team to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Through the FCAC, we learned about the government's nationwide financial literacy initiative and got introduced to a wide range of organizations - from non-profits, to financial institutions, to local communities - that all shared the same goal of educating consumers. We learned that for decades the cost of post-secondary tuition in Canada has been increasing well beyond inflation, and that students are graduating with an average of over $28,000 in debt. We also found that Canadians in general lack awareness when it comes to funding options - only 47% of eligible families have a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) account, and millions of dollars of scholarships go unclaimed each year!

After meeting with over 20 different organizations and completing a pilot program with select high schools in the Greater Toronto Area, we officially launched in January 2016.

Making an Impact: Working with Consumers and Partners

The next step is expanding our reach. For example, will now be using technology provided by to help accelerate the adoption of RESPs and Canada Learning Bonds among low income families. We are hopeful that by offering our technology to larger organizations we will be able to ensure it reaches everyone who needs it!

That is how we see it: technology and open data as a backbone for financial literacy.

Add comment *

Provision of the information requested on this form is voluntary. The information is being collected for the purpose of responding to your inquiry or comments, and to improve our suite of online products and services. Personal information that you provide is protected under the provisions of the federal Privacy Act. Please do not include sensitive personal information in the message, such as your Social Insurance Number, personal finance data and medical or work history.

Read the Privacy Statement for this Website.

The collection and use of your personal information is authorized by the section 7 of the Financial Administrative Act. Collection and use of your personal information for is in accordance with the federal Privacy Act. Your personal information is used to respond to your inquiries, if applicable, and may be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in responding to client needs. In exceptional circumstances (e.g., investigation of hackers, or of individuals who make abusive remarks or threats, etc.), personal information may be disclosed without your consent pursuant to subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act.

Any personal information that may be collected is described in the Standard Personal Information Bank entitled Public Communications, PSU 914, which can be found in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) publication: InfoSource. The personal information collected will only be kept by TBS for a period of eighteen months of the completion of activity after which all personal identifiers will be deleted.

Under the Privacy Act, you have the right of access to, and correction of, your personal information, if you have provided any. Note however, that to exercise either of these rights, you must make a request for access to your personal information before the retention period has expired. For more information about your right of access, please read About the Access to information Program.

If you require clarification about this Statement, contact the TBS Privacy Coordinator at 613-957-7154. For more information about your privacy rights and the Privacy Act, consult the Privacy Commissioner through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada website or 1-800-282-1376.