Friday, October 28, 2005

Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, October 27, was Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill. Just wanted to show you a sampling of what Members of Parliament said in the House of Commons yesterday to mark the event (a testiment to the lobbying of literacy advocates!). The first few are statements made by members and the last one is a question that was asked during Question Period:

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating Literacy Action Day. Advocates from Nova Scotia and every corner of Canada are here to press for a desperately needed pan-Canadian literacy plan to develop a quality adult literacy and education system, to address barriers to learning and social inclusion, to develop and share knowledge and to develop partnerships for a learning society.

Of Canadians aged 16 to 65, 42% lack minimum literacy skills. Studies show a 1% rise in literacy skills will drive a 2.5% increase in labour productivity and a 1.5% increase in GDP. That is $13 billion each and every year.

It is bad enough that the federal government imposes GST on books. To expand the GST to include books and CD-ROMs makes a mockery of the limited literacy support from the government. This counterproductive measure must be reversed and more resources invested in a comprehensive literacy plan in the upcoming budget.

The private member's bill that I will be introducing will remove GST from books and pamphlets. It is a small step toward helping increase literacy in Canada.

Ms. Paule Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, BQ): Mr. Speaker, on this Literacy Action Day I want to pay tribute to all those involved in adult literacy.

In my riding of Trois-Rivières, there are several literacy groups including COMSEP and Ebyôn.

Several hundred people participate in their workshops, which are run by a number of volunteers. Helping adults to learn to read gives them the keys to the world.

What is more, the participants become more informed on economic, social, political and cultural issues and meet new people, thereby making important social connections.

Attending the literacy and popular education workshops helps participants become aware of their problems, find suitable solutions and take action to improve their lot.

We wish the literacy groups many more years of success.

Mr. Mario Silva (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, overall Canada performs well internationally on measures of education and skills. Nonetheless, many Canadian adults lack the literacy and other essential skill capacities such as communication and teamwork needed to fully participate in and benefit from current Canadian society.

In a lifelong learning culture, strong literacy and other essential skills are key. Literacy and essential skills are central to the social and economic development of Canada. In the context of Literacy Action Day, what is the Government of Canada's commitment to literacy and other essential skills?

Hon. Claudette Bradshaw (Minister of State (Human Resources Development), Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today being Literacy Action Day, I would first like to congratulate the community groups, and the provinces and territories for all the work they do on behalf of the people who have problems reading and writing.

I also want to congratulate everyone who is taking steps to learn how to read and write.

In the last budget the Minister of Finance has given $30 million to the national literacy secretariat. I am pleased to announce today that 19 groups from across Canada will meet next week for two days for a comprehensive strategy on literacy.

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For more information on Literacy Action Day click HERE.

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