The Problem of Low Literacy in Canada

The Problem

In Canada, about 58 of 100 adults aged 16 to 65 have the basic reading skills they need for most everyday tasks. The other 42 – 9 million adult Canadians – have low literacy skills

How does low literacy affect people?

People with low literacy can only read short pieces of text and understand a specific piece of information at a time. If text isn’t written in clear language and presented in a simple layout, they have trouble understanding it.

But low literacy means more than having trouble reading marks on paper. People who have poor literacy skills may also have trouble organizing information, following a line of reasoning (even when the information is given orally), and keeping track of a set of instructions.

Many people with low literacy find it hard to do everyday things that others take for granted. Here are some examples:

Having low literacy skills affects many aspects of a person’s life. It can also affect the lives of their spouse, children, neighbours, and co-workers.