Make literacy and essential skills programs a priority, CUPE urges provinces

    OTTAWA, Sept. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) is calling on the provinces to create literacy and essential skills
programs that meet the needs of Canadian workers with available federal
transfer money.
    "Nine million working-age Canadians don't have the literacy skills they
need. That's why we need a federal-provincial process that prioritizes
developing good literacy training programs," said Paul Moist, CUPE national
president. "The provinces need to focus now and work with stakeholders on
developing programs before next year's federal Labour Market Transfer funding
kicks in."
    Moist said the Harper government's decision to make funding available to
the provinces without setting clear criteria means that workers won't benefit
unless the provinces prioritize the money for literacy and essential skills
training. After cutting literacy funding last year, the federal government has
reworked the Labour Market Partnership Agreement without prioritizing
essential skills needs. "September 8 is International Literacy Day and Canada
could and should be a world leader on literacy," emphasized Moist.
    "Workers need upgrading opportunities to keep up with changes in the
workplace and everyday life," said library worker Sarah Bjorknas, co-chair of
CUPE's national literacy working group and a member of CUPE Local 23 at the
City of Burnaby.
    "We need to ensure these federal dollars are spent on the literacy
programs Canadian workers most need such as essential skills, job readiness
assistance, on-the-job training and workplace-based skills upgrading," added
Sylvia Sioufi, CUPE's national literacy coordinator. CUPE has had a literacy
program in place since July 2000 and works with its members' employers to
develop workplace-based literacy training.

For further information:

For further information: Paul Moist, CUPE National President, (613)
558-2873 (cell); Claude Généreux, National Secretary-Treasurer (porte-parole
francophone), (514) 884-5074 (cell); Sylvia Sioufi, CUPE National Literacy
Coordinator, (613) 294-1997 (cell)

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