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Literacy Changes Lives:

Can you imagine not being able to read your child a bedtime story? Or being able to read a menu in a restaurant? Or fill out a job application? Most of us take it for granted that we had the chance to learn these fundamentals. But many people endured challenges that made learning these basic skills impossible, or were pushed through the system without learning the necessary skills to survive in society. By supporting Raise-a-Reader we provide the opportunity to change lives in our communities.


Literacy skills in Canada have declined between 2003 and 2013, with half the population scoring below the desired level of literacy. BC has experienced the steepest decline (along with the other 3 western provinces) (TD Economic report 2013)

An increase by about 50 points (or one level) in one's literacy proficiency is associated with a 20% increase in the probability of participating in the labour market, 10% increase in the probability of being employed as opposed to unemployed, and an 8% increase in hourly wages (on average across all countries) (OECD Skills Outlook 2013)

The Canada Council on Learning projects that by 2031, the percentage of adults in Vancouver with low literacy skills (defined as having difficulty with reading, understanding and functioning effectively with written material) will be 48% (unchanged since 2001) but the total population of adults with low literacy skills will have increased from 800,000 in 2001 to 1.3 million in 2031, a 64% increase. Part of this is due to senior citizens experiencing learning loss as they age, resulting in lower overall literacy rates. As well, the city expects a 93% increase in its total number of immigrants with low literacy (435,000)

(VSB District Report 2014-15) District data indicates that 44% of Kindergarten students in 49 Early Intervention schools are identified as being at-risk in the area of literacy development in January of their Kindergarten year. This percentage of identified at-risk students remains fairly constant on an annual basis.

Results from the latest round of international literacy assessments released in 2013 reveal that while Canada ranks about average in literacy scores, it also has a higher proportion of its population with both low and high levels of literacy (Statistics Canada, 2013). While one in seven Canadian adults functions with very high levels of literacy (14 per cent at Level 4 or above) nearly half of the working-age population has less than Level 3 proficiency (49 per cent at Level 2 or below), the level that workers in many Canadian occupations have been deemed to require for successful performance.

Canadian Literacy and Learning Network (undated):

  • 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. 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

While BC's literacy profile is stronger than the Canadian average, scores among younger adults (16-25) are lower than the Canadian average 12% of younger BC adults have difficulty with even the most basic written materials 9. One in five people enrolled in the school system do not graduate in the expected timeframe. (Literacy BC)


Committee Inquiries
Sean Curran 604-562-5833
Laurie Kravski 604-895-2751
Raise-A-Reader Inquiries:
Daryl Palmer
Breakfast Club of Canada Inquiries:
Steven Letts
West Coast Pulp Charity Invitational:
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