Newfoundland and Labrador

New literacy and essential skills program targets Newfoundland and Labrador

The most recent statistics from StatsCan indicate that the unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador is currently sitting at 11.8 per cent – the highest of all 10 provinces and six per cent above the national average, with no improvement from the previous year.[1]

To address the high unemployment rate and other unique challenges faced by the province, ABC Life Literacy Canada has launched a new program. This national literacy organization has developed a new literacy and essential skills program focused exclusively on supporting and empowering the population of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The program, entitled Activate Learning, aims to grow the number of learning opportunities for adult learners, employees and workplaces in the province. Activate Learning consists of 24 workshop topics across four key categories: essential skills, employability skills, financial literacy and health literacy.

Literacy organizations and employers in the province can sign up at to host a workshop on one or more of the available 24 topics, depending on the needs and interest of their learners or employees. Those who run a workshop will receive free training materials and may also be eligible for an honorarium or employee salary offset.

“This program was designed specifically with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in mind so that they can develop the skills they need to live fully engaged lives at home, at work and in their communities,” says Mack Rogers, Executive Director of ABC Life Literacy Canada. “Whether it’s upgrading skills to meet the criteria of a changing workforce, developing the skills to better manage money, or becoming more confident with navigating your health, Activate Learning touches on a number of different areas where learners can benefit from literacy and essential skills training.”

Forty-eight per cent of adult Canadians have literacy skills that fall below a high school level, which has a negative impact on their ability to function at work and in their personal lives. Studies show that even modest investments in literacy and essential skills training in workplaces can translate into substantial gains in workers’ skills and job performance, as well as increases in employment, earnings, job retention, productivity, and costs savings from reduced errors and waste.[2]

Outside of the workplace, skills training to improve comprehension and confidence around financial and health literacy also prove to be beneficial.

Forty per cent of Canadians report that money is a daily concern,[3] however studies show that people who have higher levels of financial confidence tend to have better results with day-to-day money and debt management than those with low levels of confidence.[4]

When it comes to health, people with low health literacy are more likely to misunderstand warning labels[5], which can potentially lead to improper usage.

Activate Learning is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning, Literacy & Essential Skills program. To learn more, to host a workshop, or to access free resources, visit

[1] StatsCan
[2] UPSKILL Health – Technical Report on worker and business outcomes: Social Research and Demonstration Corporation, 2016
[3] Canadians and their Money – Financial Planning Standards Council, 2016
[4] The link between financial confidence and financial outcomes among working-age Canadians – Social Research and Demonstration Corporation, 2016
[5] Institute of Medicine Roundtable summary, 2017