Movement for Canadian Literacy

November 09, 2005 17:06 ET

Stats Canada study shows Jacques Demers is not alone:

Millions of Canadians struggle with low literacy Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Education Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA/ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 9, 2005) - Only days after former NHL Coach Jacques Demers admitted that he has struggled with low literacy all of his life, a Statistics Canada report released today shows that Mr. Demers is one of millions.

The International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS), shows that 4 in 10 Canadians don't have the literacy skills that experts say are necessary to meet the demands of today's information-based society and economy. In all, that's 9 million working-age Canadians who could benefit from skills upgrading - more than the total population of Mr. Demers' home province of Quebec.

"This study is another wake-up call for decision-makers," said Wendy DesBrisay, Executive Director of the Movement for Canadian Literacy. "Literacy barriers are sidelining too many Canadians and this is a challenge that demands our attention."

Here are some of the survey's key findings:

- Four in ten working-age adults don't have the literacy skills that experts say are necessary to meet the escalating demands of today's information-based society. In the 10 years since the last national survey was released, we've seen little progress.

- In every province and territory, too many adults have low literacy skills. Even in the highest performing jurisdictions, 3 out of 10 adults aged 16 and over performed at the lowest literacy levels.

- The situation is very serious for Aboriginal populations, immigrants and linguistic minorities.

"These numbers are not surprising to literacy's front-line workers," said Ms. DesBrisay. "For too long, our community has been left to address the challenge alone, with insufficient, short-term funding and without the benefit of a coordinated national vision and strategy. This is true even though improving literacy would boost productivity, raise GDP, and address pressing social issues."

Recently, there has been some progress. The federal government has been working with the literacy field on a desperately needed 10-year-action plan for literacy. Now, there are concerns that political change might put the brakes on this momentum.

"This study confirms that Jacques Demers' voice is only one among millions. Concrete action on literacy will not only benefit these millions, it will benefit all Canadians," said DesBrisay. "IALSS shows us that action on literacy is a necessity, not an option. Please don't let politics get in the way of progress."


For information: (613) 563-2464 or visit:

The Movement for Canadian Literacy is a national non-profit organization representing literacy coalitions, organizations, and individuals from every province and territory. Our mission is to be a national voice for literacy.


Contact Information

  • Fiona Murray, Communications/Liaison Coordinator
    Primary Phone: 613-563-2464