The Canadian Literacy and Learning Network State of the Literacy and Essential Skills Field (2012) environmental scan describes Literacy in the following way:

Literacy is more than decoding words or recognizing symbols. It is the ability to use written and numerical information in order to do everyday tasks at home, at work and in the community. How people are able to use their literacy skills varies from context to context.

The understanding of ‘literacy’ continues to expand and evolve to include a wide variety of skills. In fact, it is becoming common to hear the term “literacies” rather than literacy. This includes skills such as financial literacy, health literacy, media literacy and digital technology literacy. The competence to do this is reflected through Literacy and Essential Skills as the practical application of what a person can do. Literacy skills, including technological literacy are vital skills for life-long learning and employment success.

International literacy surveys changed the conception of literacy from the literate/illiterate
dichotomy to the new understanding of literacy as a continuum. The most important international literacy survey is the International Adult Literacy Skills Survey (IALSS). The survey conceptualizes literacy along a continuum of proficiency from Level 1 (low literacy skills) to Level 5 (strong literacy skills), with Level 3 being the skill level needed for most literacy tasks in our society.

Strong Literacy and Essential Skills have positive benefits for the individual, for communities and for the economy. Strong literacy skills are associated with improved Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Essential Skills are inherently transferrable, and improvements in these skills also benefit people accessing systems such as justice and health. Improving Essential Skills also often benefits people who are incarcerated and people who want to be active in their local communities. Adults at Levels 3 and above participate more in community activities, volunteer more and are more likely to vote.

Source: Canadian Literacy and Learning Network, 2012
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The Canadian Literacy and Learning Network also states:

  • 42% of Canadians aged 16-65 have low literacy skills;
  • less than 20% of people with the lowest literacy skills are employed;
  • a 1% increase in the literacy rate in Canada would generate $18 billion in economic growth every year; and
  • investment in literacy programming has a 241% return on investment (ROI).

Source: Canadian Network on Literacy and Learning
Retrieved From:

Individuals with low levels of literacy skills are more likely to experience poverty or have lower incomes than other adults. Having a low literacy skill level has numerous other implications for a person’s health, crime-related behaviors, employment and quality of life in general.

Source: Literacy Link Niagara
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Literacy and Basic Skills
Literacy & Basic Skills (LBS) programs in Niagara can be found on the Literacy Link Niagara website.

In Niagara, we are gaining broader insight into ways poverty affects learning and education attainment for learners of all ages. The extent to which students have access to personal resources affects their ability to gain essential workplace skills such as technological literacy, interpersonal communications, and self-directed learning.

Community Literacy of Ontario, in the 2013 publication, “20 Reasons Why Ontario’s Literacy and Basic Skills Programs Matter” states:

“Literacy and the Digital Divide- Canadians with lower literacy skills are significantly less likely to use computers. In 2009, 89% of Canadians with at least some post-secondary education used the Internet, compared to 66% of Canadians with no post-secondary education.”

Source: Community Literacy of Ontario, 2013
Retrieved From:

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