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April 6 to 14 is Adult Learners’ Week in Canada. Every adult has a right to holistic lifelong learning, whether it’s training, union education in the community or the workplace, or learning and upgrading essential skills. Essential skills include such things as reading, writing, computer skills, and communication skills.

CUPE is deeply concerned about recent policy decisions the Harper Conservative government is making. In the most recent budget, changes are being proposed to the Canada Job Grant and Labour Market Agreements (LMAs) that will promote programs with limited scope and only short-term economic impact. We fear the changes will no longer focus on literacy and essential skills programs that foster long-term benefits, and will push aside some of our most vulnerable workers that need and want this training the most.

CUPE is a leader in the labour movement on literacy through its adult literacy program. We believe that literacy and essential skills are extremely important to workers. And it’s not just in the workplace. They also have a positive impact on the family and the community, help social participation, and build self-esteem. We must have a global and long-term perspective on learning essential skills - a vision that puts the person at the centre.

CUPE is proud to work with other organizations, such as le Réseau pour le développement de l’alphabétisme et des compétences (RESDAC), the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network (CLLN) and the National Adult Literacy Database (NALD), who work to advance opportunities for adult learning in Canada.