According to Statistics Canada, people from impoverished families, people who have been unemployed for a long time, seniors, Aboriginal people, prisoners, people with disabilities, and racial and cultural minorities all have lower rates of literacy and higher rates of poverty. They have fewer choices in jobs, education, and housing. (Statistics Canada)
In Canada, relative poverty rates are highest among single parents and even more pronounced among non-working single parents. Across the OECD, non-employed families are the most economically disadvantaged, which means job creations strategies are an integral part of tackling poverty (Conference Board of Canada)
Adults who score at levels 1 and 2 on the numeracy scale are more likely to obtain social assistance payments from the state. Sixty-five percent of social assistance recipients have low literacy skills. (Literacy in Ontario)
Between 22% and 50% of adults with lower levels of literacy live in low-income households, compared with only 8% of those with high-level literacy skills. (Literacy in Ontario)
Adults living in low-income households receive less job-related training and education, and engage less frequently in activities (both on the job and in the home) that favour the development of literacy abilities. (Literacy in Ontario)
Many barriers keep low-income adults out of literacy and job training programs. Only a small fraction (estimated at 5 - 10%) of eligible adults have ever enrolled in a literacy or upgrading program and among those who do enrol, drop out rates are high. The main barriers cited are socioeconomic-circumstantial factors such as lack of support for child care, transportation, and attendant care for disabled persons, long working hours, family needs, poor health, discouragement and lack of confidence - not to mention programs that just don’t fit their needs. Also poorer adults often don’t have the literacy skills they need to get into job training programs.