LETTER: Lack of funding for literacy

There are many Canadians who would love to participate in this simple family activity but they do not have the literacy skills.

An open letter to Justin Trudeau:

As I was driving to work, I listened to an interview you had on CBC radio. As you spoke to the interviewer, she asked you what you like to do with your children at the end of your busy day. At this point, you told Canada that you like to read to your children. I applaud you on this; I too enjoyed reading to my son.

But there are many Canadians who  would love to participate in this simple family activity but they do not have the literacy skills that would enable them to do this. A lack of literacy skills spills over into providing for their families as well.

I work for a community literacy not-for-profit organization in B.C. and we run several programs designed to help alleviate the low literacy skills that abound in Canadian society. These programs are designed for participants from early years to later years. One of our biggest challenges is that we deliver these programs with little to no funding; therefore, both our family literacy programs and our adult literacy programs run on a “shoestring.”

The following are the latest stats on adult literacy in Canada – this information does not just include adults with English as their second language. In Canada:

– 42 per cent of Canadian adults between the ages of 16 and 65 have low literacy skills.

– 55 per cent of working-age adults in Canada are estimated to have less than adequate health literacy skills.

– 88 per cent of adults over the age of 65 appear to be in this situation

Impoverished adults often do not have the literacy skills required to get into job training programs. They may need literacy skills upgrading before they can succeed in training programs but only about five to 10 per cent of eligible adults enroll in programs

Less than 20 per cent of people with the lowest literacy skills are employed.

A one per cent increase in the literacy rate would generate $18 billion in economic growth every year.

Theresa Jackson

Mission Literacy Outreach Coordinator