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Literacy Facts

Literacy Facts

Courtesy of Community Literacy of Ontario

Do you know that:

Almost half of all Canadian adults have low literacy skills (48%)?  In our province of Ontario, 42% of adults do not have the literacy skills they need for home, work and life.

In 2011, 22.4% of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 did not have a high school diploma.

Level 1 & Level 2

Adults at Level 1 (lowest of 5 levels) have difficulty reading food and drug labels?  Shopping for the best possible price and other everyday tasks such as paying utility bills can be difficult or impossible.

Adults at Level 2 find new material challenging and may not be able to correctly fill out a job application form or write a cheque?  Many adults at this level do not realize they have a literacy problem…until they have to face a new challenge.

These two levels account for up to 48% of Canadian adults!

Level 3

Adults at Level 3 are considered to have the minimum literacy level to deal with most common written information but most will have difficulties with unfamiliar or technical materials.

33% of Canadians are at Level 3

Level 4 & Level 5

The remaining 20% of adults have the skills to understand new and challenging materials to engage fully in our technological society.


People with low literacy skills have much lower rates of employment. In Ontario, just 61% of adults with the lowest literacy levels are employed, while 82% of people with the highest levels of literacy are in the workforce.


Literacy is a key determinant of overall health.

Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning is important for economic prosperity and personal growth. Raising the literacy levels of Canadians is one of the most important ways to encourage lifelong learning in our country.

New Canadians

New Canadians make critical contributions to our society, culture and economy. While many immigrants are represented at the highest levels of educational achievements, 60% of immigrants in our province have low levels of literacy in English and French.

Labour Force

Due to our aging population and progressively lower birth rates, Ontario will experience a skill shortage in the near future. Improving literacy rates and increasing the participation rates of people currently under-represented in Ontario’s labour force, such as people with low levels of literacy, will be critical to our province’s future economic health.