Poor literacy skills can lead to difficulties for all of society, not just the individual. Low literacy is connected to poverty, and even crime. Health and safety are at risk if people cannot read instructions or warnings. Patients who cannot read medical instructions are a danger to themselves, their families, and possibly others.
And low literacy is often passed on to succeeding generations. Our young people deserve a chance at the best opportunities – not to start out at a disadvantage.
The numbers don’t lie
We want to help more people, but we’re reaching only a small percentage of people who could benefit from our program. How do we know this?
- The Canadian government’s Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (2005) reports that 42% of Canadians, aged 16 to 65, are at literacy Levels 1 and 2, below the minimum of what is suitable for coping with everyday demands. Level 1 means a person cannot read, for example, a medicine bottle, or safety instructions. Level 2 means the person can only handle simple material, and has difficulty facing new tasks at work or in the community.
- A Social Profile of Oakville (Community Development Halton, 2004) reports that 30% of Oakville’s residents between the ages of 15 and 24 are not attending school.
- The Statistics Canada 2001 Census tells us that 22.7% of Oakville’s labour force between the ages of 35 and 65 has less than a high-school education. With a total of 65,000 adults in that age group living in Oakville, that means 15,000 of them do not have a high-school diploma. Even if we conservatively assume that only 10-20% of these 15,000 adults would have low literacy skills, it tells us that between 1,500 and 3,000 people in that age group alone could benefit from our services.
Read more about literacy facts and figures on the ABC Canada website.