Report released - a National Strategy for Early Literacy

    Report aims to improve literacy skills of young Canadians and could save
    Canada billions

LONDON, ON, Oct. 14 /CNW/ - Low literacy skills cost Canada billions of dollars annually. Raising the literacy proficiency of Canadians would increase tax revenues by $11 billion/year and save $5 billion/year in unemployment and social assistance payments.

Currently, at least 42% of Canadian adults struggle with literacy. The costs and consequences of this pattern of underperformance are enormous. Literacy problems begin early in life and are most effectively addressed in childhood. Canada needs a National Strategy for Early Literacy to raise the literacy level of our population, for the benefit of all.

Led by a range of education, literacy and public interest organizations, the National Strategy for Early Literacy is the first pan-Canadian initiative that offers an action plan on what needs to be done to improve literacy skills of young Canadians. The report released today was prepared by the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network. It synthesizes key findings from a series of new policy research papers and an extensive public consultation process to formulate the Strategy. The report concludes with specific recommendations regarding how current policies and practices can be modified to improve literacy outcomes, and how these can be monitored publicly.

Full and summary versions of the report are available in both English and French at

"Canada's global competitiveness depends on our citizens' abilities to read, communicate and interact effectively. It is clear that too many Canadians are failing to acquire essential skills but the good news is that we know a lot about what can be done to improve this situation. Since the benefits from improved literacy accrue over a lifetime, it is absolutely critical to focus on ensuring that Canadians acquire the foundational literacy skills they need, early in life. The National Strategy report defines a coherent, evidence-based strategy for improving literacy from birth through age 16," said Donald G. Jamieson, Ph.D., CEO and Scientific Director, Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network.


    About literacy in Canada:

     -  At least 42% of Canadian adults lack the literacy skills needed to
        succeed in Canada today.

     -  One in four Canadian children who enter Grade 1 is significantly
        behind his or her peers and poorly prepared to learn.

     -  Approximately one-fifth of Canadian children aged four to five show
        delays in vocabulary development.

     -  Literacy impacts all aspects of modern life. For individuals, it is
        the foundation for academic, financial, and life success; for
        nations, it is key to a healthy democracy and a flourishing economy.
        Adults with poor literacy skills are less successful in school, work
        less, and are unemployed longer. They require more social assistance
        and are more frequently in poorer health.

     -  Reducing the percentage of Canadians who have low literacy skills by
        just 1% (from 42% of the population to 41%) would increase labour
        productivity by 2.5% and Canada's annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
        by 1.5% per person, leading to a permanent increase of $18
        billion/year in Canada's GDP.

    About The National Strategy for Early Literacy (NSEL)

     -  The National Strategy for Early Literacy (NSEL; is a cooperative, Canada-wide initiative
        to improve the literacy skills of young Canadians.

     -  A range of education, literacy and public interest organizations came
        together to lead the NSEL initiative, which was built on the
        expertise and administrative resources of the Canadian Language and
        Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet).

    -   The Strategy has involved:

        1. Determining what is known and not known about improving early
           literacy outcomes.

        2. Preparing policy research papers to summarize the available
           evidence in key areas.

        3. Conducting a national public consultation - involving solicitation
           of written briefs, followed by public hearings in eight major
           cities across Canada - to obtain advice on what can and should be
           done to improve literacy outcomes.

        4. Synthesizing and evaluating submissions, policy research papers,
           presentations and discussion at public hearings, and other
           relevant materials, leading to the NSEL report, which summarizes
           what can be - and is being - done to improve literacy skills
           outcomes for Canadian children and youth.

    About CLLRNet:

     -  The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet; The
        Network) is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation dedicated to
        improving the language, literacy and numeracy skills of Canadians.

     -  CLLRNet develops evidence-based tools and resources for policymakers,
        practitioners (e.g., teachers, speech-language pathologists, etc.),
        and parents concerned with increasing the literacy skills of Canadian

     -  The Network promotes high quality applied research on the literacy
        issues that are most important for Canada.

     -  CLLRNet is unique in Canada and the world, as it facilitates
        collaboration between researchers, trainees and partners in the
        policy, service-delivery and knowledge exchange sectors working on
        the common goal of improving literacy skills.

    For more information please visit


For further information: For further information: Media Information: Jennifer Starcok, Managing Director, Canadian Language & Literacy Research Network, tel. (519) 850-2901,

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