Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

September 08, 2007 09:30 ET

Bankers and Workers agree: Investments in Literacy Necessary

Canadian Labour Congress calls for government commitments to workplace literacy programs

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 8, 2007) - The Canadian Labour Congress marks September 8, International Literacy Day, with a renewed call to the federal government to make a clear commitment to improve adult literacy in Canada and to devote resources towards programs and results, including union-sponsored workplace literacy programs.

"Canadian working families welcome the acknowledgement a few days ago by one of Canada's big banks that 'many individuals lack the adequate literacy skills to fully participate in the economy and civil society.' This is a blight on a rich and democratic country like Canada," says Barbara Byers, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"We have known for years that an extra year of education for the average worker can boost real income per person by more than 7%. Low productivity in many low wage, service sector jobs can be boosted significantly just by raising the literacy and numeracy skills of workers," says Byers, citing studies by Statistics Canada.

Earlier this week a report by the TD Bank Financial Group "estimates that a one percent increase in literacy rates could boost the national income by as much as $32 billion, noting that an economic payoff of more than $80 billion could be achieved if all Canadians reached the desired level of literacy."

"Over the last five years we have had a Parliamentary Committee, studies, consultations, and roundtables, the results of the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, and now we even have the bankers! What else does the government need to reverse the budget cuts and start making the necessary investments in literacy?" asks Byers.

"Literacy enhances full participation in a democratic society. Indeed, time and time again, we have all witnessed how increased literacy skills produce rewards for community, family and workplace."

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 136 district labour councils. Web site:

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    Jean Wolff