All About Literacy in Canada

Literacy Statistics

In Canada…

42% of Canadian adults between the ages of 16 and 65 have low literacy skills.

55% of working age adults in Canada are estimated to have less than adequate health literacy skills. Shockingly, 88% 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 5 – 10% of eligible adults enroll in programs

Less than 20% of people with the lowest literacy skills are employed

A 1% increase in the literacy rate would generate $18 billion in economic growth every year

Investment in literacy programming has a 241% return on investment

International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS)

The latest literacy study by Statistics Canada shows that millions of Canadians do not have the literacy skills they need to keep pace with the escalating demands of our society and economy. This loss of potential impacts on the social and economic well-being of individuals, families, communities and our country.

The Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALSS, 2003) sheds light on our current literacy challenges and also connects those challenges to some of Canada’s most pressing social and economic issues. The link is clear in this conclusion: “… investments in foundation skills would lead to improved levels of health, increased productivity, reduced social costs and higher growth”.

IALS Fall 2011 Institute papers and presentations now available online

This Institute explored the story of the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and its successors in Canada and other countries. It traced the shift from “literacy” to “skills” to “competencies”, and explored evolving methodology and the impacts of the international literacy assessments over two decades on policy and practice.
Click here to link to materials.

The Study’s Findings

The full Canadian Report of the IALSS – Building on our Competencies: Canadian Results of the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey released on November 30, 2005.

Statistics Canada announces highlights from the full IALSS report (The Daily, November 30, 2005)

Statistics Canada announces the provincial/territorial analysis of IALSS (The Daily, November 9, 2005)

Learning a Living: First Results of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (The OECD report) released on May 11, 2005

Statistics Canada’s online catalogue – Publications and products from Building on our Competencies (IALSS)

Literacy and Digital Technologies: Linkages and Outcomes (from IALSS data):
Full report  |  Highlights

Literacy skills among Canada’s immigrant population (based on IALSS data) – Article in Education Matters

IALSS 2003 – Public Use Microdata available on CD-ROM from Statistics Canada

Responses to the Report

MCL’s background and response

The Federal Government Response:
Key Findings of the 2003 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey: Implications for Human Resources Development Canada by Satya Brink, Ph.D. (May 2005)

ABC CANADA: a response and summary on IALSS findings

Frontier College: a summary on IALSS