McGuinty Government Bringing Communities Together To Celebrate Literacy

    Projects Unite Educators, Employers, Local Organizations And Learners

    THUNDER BAY, ON, Jan. 30 /CNW/ - Employers, labour groups, and community
partners in the Thunder Bay area are being invited to take part in the
Celebrating Literacy campaign, which is being supported by an investment of
close to $500,000 across the province, Chris Bentley, Minister of Training,
Colleges and Universities, announced today.
    "This spring, Celebrating Literacy projects in Thunder Bay and area will
build awareness of the economic benefits of literacy while showcasing local
services," said Michael Gravelle, MPP for Thunder Bay-Superior North. "This
program will help people realize their potential and gain the confidence and
skills needed to perform in today's workforce."
    "Literacy not only contributes to a person's self-confidence, it also
helps people become highly productive workers," said Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder
Bay-Atikokan. "Helping people achieve greater literacy will help us build
healthier and more prosperous communities."
    Between now and the end of March, Celebrating Literacy will see local
training boards, in partnership with regional adult literacy networks,
spearhead campaigns and events in regions across Ontario. Each campaign will
encourage innovative partnerships to develop best practices, and build
literacy awareness as a key component of Employment Ontario, the province's
integrated employment and training network.
    "The North Superior Training Board is proud to be part of a Pan-Northern
program that commits to improving literacy levels and workforce development in
our region," said Madge Richardson, Co-Chair Business. "We are very excited
about this important initiative for people in Northwestern Ontario," added
Francis Bell, Co-Chair Labour.
    "It's important for people to know that there are a variety of adult
literacy programs across all of Northern Ontario to choose from, which offer
different learning models and experiences that respond to individual learning
needs and goals," said Annemarie Wesolowski, Executive Director of Literacy
Northwest. "Whether you're working, looking for work or wanting to improve
your literacy skills for personal reasons, there's a literacy program for

    The McGuinty government has also implemented other initiatives to provide
opportunities for Ontarians, including:

    -   Investing $6.2 billion more in postsecondary education and training
        by 2009-10 - the most significant multi-year investment in Ontario's
        higher education system in 40 years
    -   Staying on track to meet our goal of 26,000 new registered
        apprentices per year in 2007-08
    -   Launching Employment Ontario, Ontario's Employment and Training
        Network, bringing together almost $1 billion in labour market
        services benefiting approximately 900,000 Ontarians through 1,200
        community based partners.

    "Greater literacy helps people reach their potential, which boosts
Ontario's economic growth and overall productivity," added Bentley. "When you
help build a person's literacy skills, you help their family and ultimately,
their whole community."

    Disponible en français




    Strong literacy and numeracy skills help workers perform at a higher
level, thereby enhancing our workforce and economy. A 2004 Statistics Canada
study found that a rise of one per cent in average literacy scores is
associated with an eventual 2.5 per cent increase in labour productivity and a
1.5 per cent increase in Gross Domestic Product.
    To promote the importance of literacy in the workplace, the McGuinty
government is launching Celebrating Literacy, a community-based initiative.
Starting in 2007, Celebrating Literacy will bring together literacy program
providers, employers, unions and learners to develop local campaigns raising
awareness of the value of literacy in building healthy communities and a
healthy economy. Each Celebrating Literacy campaign will encourage innovative
partnerships to develop best practices and build greater literacy awareness as
a key component of Employment Ontario.

    The North Superior Training Board, in partnership with Literacy Northwest,
is coordinating the Celebrating Literacy campaign in the Thunder Bay area. The
campaign is called Promoting Literacy for a Healthy Northern Economy, and
scheduled projects and events include:

    -   An employer's resource kit, including an information booklet,
        poster/calendar and pullout resource guides for each of Ontario's
        northern local board regions. The kit is being developed in
        partnership with the Far Northeast Training Board and will be made
        available across northern Ontario
    -   A breakfast event that will bring together Aboriginal organizations
        and up to 80 local businesses and industries to build relationships
        and increase Aboriginal participation in the Thunder Bay region
        labour market
    -   A workplace and workforce literacy forum where approximately 60
        employers, unions, employees and literacy providers will share
        information and develop regional solutions.

    In addition to introducing Celebrating Literacy, the McGuinty government
is investing close to $70 million in Literacy and Basic Skills in 2006-07,
which will bring services to approximately 49,000 learners.
    Literacy and Basic Skills is part of Employment Ontario, the new
integrated training and employment network, which strengthens pathways to
postsecondary education, apprenticeship training and employment. The program
provides adults who have left school opportunities to gain the literacy, math
and other skills they need to get better jobs, further education and training,
and more independence. Last year, two-thirds of people who completed the
program went on to further education and employment.
    Literacy and Basic Skills services focus on people whose literacy skills
fall below Grade 9 of the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum. For adults
working at the Grade 10-12 level, the program provides academic upgrading,
which helps them prepare for postsecondary education, apprenticeship training
or employment. All services are provided free of charge.

    Academic upgrading was originally announced in the 2004 budget. This year,
the government is completing the launch of academic upgrading by doubling its
investment to $10 million. New partners and delivery methods will help extend
the program's reach to new communities and will benefit an additional 4,200
learners this year, including francophones, Aboriginal peoples, persons with
disabilities and those who would be the first in their families to attend
college or university.
    To better serve people prevented from attending in-class courses due to
geography, physical disabilities or timing conflicts, the ministry is also
expanding distance delivery options. Starting in January 2007, visitors to the
ministry website can explore different learning options and get started
immediately with AlphaRoute Access, an interactive, online learning tool.

    Tanya Blazina
    Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

    Disponible en français


For further information:

For further information: Sheamus Murphy, Minister's Office, (416)
325-7215; Tanya Blazina, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2746; Public
Inquiries: (416) 325-2929, or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892

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