Literacy Facts

We know that low adult literacy is a problem in Canada, and that few adults who could benefit from literacy training are getting the help they need.

Consider the facts:

– Four out of ten adult Canadians aged 16 to 65 struggle with low literacy. (Statistics Canada, 2005)

– In 2003, there were nearly 8.9 million Canadians aged 16 to 65 whose literacy skills were below the high school standard, and 3.1 million of those adults had skills below the middle school standard.
(International Survey of Reading Skills, 2005)

– Less than 10 per cent of Canadians who could benefit from literacy programs actually enroll. Research shows that lack of money, childcare and transportation are some of the barriers that prevent people from getting help. (ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation, 2001)

– Over one half of unemployed Canadians age 16-65 have literacy skills below the high school standard.
(International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, 2003)

The Benefits of Literacy

– Higher levels of prose literacy are associated with higher levels of involvement in various community groups, organizations and volunteer activities. Half of all respondents at the lowest level of prose literacy reported that they were not involved in any community activities, compared with only 1 in 5 at the highest level of literacy.

– Literacy is required to understand instructions on medication and correctly understanding medical dosages means fewer mistakes and interventions and greater individual autonomy (including among seniors). Higher literacy could reduce the burden of healthcare on providers and caregivers. As fewer resources are needed, the cost of the healthcare system would likely decline.

– Literacy improves a person’s chances of employment, builds self-confidence and enables engagement, discussion and action that can improve individual and community welfare.

– When a person has a greater understanding of social and political issues, they’re able to make more informed decisions at the ballot box and engage in public debate.  (International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, 2003)

For more facts and statistics on adult literacy in Canada, visit ABC Canada.

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