The definition of literacy is changing as our society transforms and grows. Low literacy is defined as having difficulty in reading, understanding and functioning effectively with written materials. Being literate in the 21st century means having the ability to read, write and express critical thought through verbal, print, visual and digital formats. According to Statistics Canada, 48 percent of adults age 16 and older don’t have the literacy skills needed for the working world. Without proper literacy skills, things such as job applications, medication labels and basic signage can become inaccessible—decreasing the chances of a healthy and productive life. Well-rounded literacy skills allow people to function at their full capacity. A better society is possible when literacy is seen as fundamentally important.

Fast Facts

  • If literacy rates were improved by 1%, the Canadian economy could see a $32 million boost.
  • More than 60% of Indigenous Canadians do not have the literacy skills necessary to fully participate in the current knowledge-based economy.
  • 2 in 10 university graduates, 5 in 10 Canadian adults and 6 in 10 immigrants have inadequate literacy.
  • Over 15 million Canadian adults will have low literacy by 2031.
Over 15 million adult Canadians will have low literacy by 2031.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LITERACY

According to the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada, “Investing in literacy is investing in people, productivity, and competitiveness, and will ultimately position Canada favourably in the global environment.”

By obtaining adequate literacy skills at a young age, children are equipped with the fundamental tools and confidence to help them reach their fullest potentials and become well-rounded individuals. By honing these skills, they will be better equipped to perform in school and succeed in the real world, as they further their own careers while contributing to their communities and the world at large.

The definition of literacy is changing as our society transforms and grows. Low literacy is defined as having difficulty in reading, understanding and functioning effectively with written materials. Being literate in the 21st century means having the ability to read, write and express critical thought through verbal, print, visual and digital formats. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a fifth grade level. Without proper literacy skills, things such as job applications, medication labels and basic signage can become inaccessible—decreasing the chances of a healthy and productive life. Well-rounded literacy skills allow people to function to their full capability. A better society is possible when literacy is seen as fundamentally important.

Fast Facts

  • Children’s early vocabulary skills are linked to their economic backgrounds. By three years of age, children from the wealthiest families have heard 30 million more words than children from the poorest families.
  • 19% of high school graduates in the U.S. cannot read.
  • Crime and literacy are linked. Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
  • The rate of low literacy in the U.S. costs the health care industry over $70 million every year.
19% of high school graduates in the U.S. cannot read.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LITERACY

The ability to read is one of the basic necessities of life. Not only is it important throughout a youth’s education, but it also provides economic security and allows one to actively participate in everyday life. By obtaining adequate literacy skills at a young age, children are equipped with the fundamental tools and confidence to help them reach their fullest potential and become well-rounded individuals. By honing these skills, youth are better equipped to perform in school and succeed in the real world, as they further their own careers while contributing to their communities and the world at large.