McGuinty Government Bringing Communities Together To Celebrate Literacy

    Projects Unite Educators, Employers, Local Organizations And Learners

    LONDON, ON, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - Employers, labour groups, and community
partners in the London 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.
    "Greater literacy helps people reach their potential, which boosts
Ontario's economic growth and overall productivity," Bentley told guests at
the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Local Training Board. "This spring, Celebrating
Literacy projects in communities across Ontario will build awareness of the
economic benefits of literacy and will showcase local services."
    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.
    "This project is about communications in the workplace," said Deb
Mountenay, Executive Director, Elgin Middlesex Oxford Local Training Board.
"The partners have been looking at the ways that literacy impacts all
workplace education. That's the message that we will be sharing with
    Initial campaign partners include Literacy Link South Central and the
London and District chapter of the Human Resources Professionals Association
of Ontario. Other partners are expected to join the partnership throughout the
    "Employers need to have a greater understanding what impact literacy has
on their changing workplace and the lives of their employees," said Dolores
Bryant, President of the London and District chapter of the Human Resources
Professionals Association of Ontario. "If employers want to ensure their
workforce is flexible and employees are promotion ready, workplace literacy is
an essential part of that process, particularly in a shrinking labour market."
    "We're excited to have this opportunity to profile literacy in the
workplace," said Tamara Kaattari, Executive Director of Literacy Link South
Central. "This partnership will help us promote the benefits of a highly
literate workforce through the use of strong community networks."

    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.

    "When you help build a person's literacy skills, you help their family and
ultimately, their whole community," added Bentley.

    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 Elgin Middlesex Oxford Training Board is coordinating the Celebrating
Literacy campaign in the City of London and Counties of Elgin, Middlesex, and
Oxford. Projects and events already in place include:

    -   A display booth staffed by human resource and literacy professionals
        that will reach approximately 1,200 employers over the course of four
        business events
    -   Hosting the first annual Work4Success conference, with a focus on
        skills training in workforce succession planning
    -   Appearances by partners on a cable television program on literacy in
        the workplace.

    The project will wrap up with a dinner and information evening where
employers will meet local literacy service providers and learn how they can
address literacy issues in the workplace.
    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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Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

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