All About Literacy in Canada

Learn about literacy in Canada

All About Literacy in Canada

CLLN has adopted the definition of literacy put forward by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society. — UNESCO

An Overview of Canadian Literacy

Canada is one of the few industrialized countries without a national system for adult basic education. The following information will help you understand how literacy services are currently funded and delivered.

Who is responsible for literacy?

Literacy and adult basic education, like most of the social issues (welfare, health, education, training) fall mainly under the jurisdiction of provincial and territorial governments. However, the federal government plays a role in developing policy directions and in delivering some funds for literacy initiatives through provincial transfer payments, Labour Market Development Agreements, other specialized federally delivered programs, as well as the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program (ALLESP)

The provincial/territorial role in literacy

The delivery of literacy training programs is mainly funded and coordinated by the provinces and territories and their educational systems. This is often done in partnership with not-for-profit organizations, formal educational institutions (e.g. school boards and community colleges), business and labour. However, provinces and territories are under no obligation to designate specific funds in support of core literacy programs. As a result, literacy services in Canada vary considerably in resources and accessibility from one region of the country to another.

How are literacy programs delivered and supported?

Within the provinces and territories, literacy programs may be delivered by various providers including colleges, school boards, unions and community-based agencies. They may deliver targeted services to various population groups including Aboriginal, Deaf (or Deaf-Blind), Francophone, Anglophone, developmentally delayed people, workers, and/or unemployed literacy learners. A significant amount of literacy training in this country is delivered by trained volunteers.

Each province and territory has a coalition that is funded to provide a support network to local literacy organizations within their region. These coalitions in turn send representatives to Canadian Literacy and Learning Network, which provides a national forum for exchange, collaboration, support and promotion of English literacy issues in Canada. CLLN represents over 2500 literacy agencies of all types.