“Still today, almost 20 per cent of Canadian adults are near or below the lowest level of literacy”, says Sylvia Sioufi, CUPE senior officer for Union Development. “That’s why it’s important to advocate for stronger basic skills training programs and to highlight the destructive impact of Harper’s cuts to literacy”.
Statistics show that investment in education and basic skills is three times as important to economic growth as investments in physical capital, such as machinery and equipment. The Harper years have been very damaging to literacy and training work across Canada, and it will be important to use the election as a platform to help bring literacy and workers’ rights back to the forefront.
The NDP’s David Christopherson was also on hand to talk about his party’s long-standing support for investment in basic skills training and its unwavering commitment to protecting workers’ rights.
The book Transformations: Literacy and the Labour Movement explores the role of labour throughout the years in creating spaces for workers to better their skills, as well as the impact literacy and education can have for workers, their families and their communities.
The website Learning in Solidarity presents a timeline which describes the evolution of literacy training from its humble beginnings in the late 1800s, to some of labour’s most recent efforts in supporting its members and strengthening workplaces.