Literacy in Niagara

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Literacy level ratings are divided into levels. Level 3 is suggested as the level required to fully function in everyday Canadian society and in the workplace. Literacy Niagara estimates that 1 in 5 Canadians cannot read or write well enough to function adequately. Jobs that require Level 1 and 2 skills have decreased since the 1990s. It is estimated that 39.2% of working Canadians lack the literacy skills required for their positions. Lower literacy skills often put individuals in lowering paying jobs or even make them unemployable (ABC Canada, 2001; Arai, 2008 p. 34).

 

While Niagara’s rates of literacy are comparable to those of the province (31.3% average reading at level 3 compared to 32.2% in Ontario), it still means that a substantial portion of our population cannot fill out documents such as job applications or driver’s licenses, read a book, use a telephone directory, read instructions for safety at home or work, read road maps or signs, write business letters or read educational materials.

 

While Niagara compares well to Ontario literacy rates, literacy rates vary across the Niagara Region and need to be explored further related to education levels, employment and low income levels that exist in different parts of the region. Canadian studies indicate that literacy levels for immigrants and Aboriginal populations are far below the general population in Canada and this also poses similar challenges in Niagara for these populations.

 

Table 11  Literacy rates and levels for Niagara and Ontario.

 

 

 

Niagara

Ontario

Category

Literacy Level

 %

%

Prose

1

2

3

4/5

22.9

29.0

33.5

14.7

21.3

28.1

34.4

16.2

Document

1

2

3

4/5

24.7

28.1

31.9

15.3

23.0

27.3

32.6

17.1

Numeracy

1

2

3

4/5

29.0

30.1

28.5

12.4

27.1

29.4

29.5

14.0

Average

1

2

3

4/5

25.5

29.0

31.3

14.1

23.8

28.3

32.2

15.7

Source: Statistics Canada, Census, 2001.

 

 

Rating: 2