The consequences of illiteracy in Quebec

The consequences of illiteracy in Quebec are numerous and damaging in many ways.

In addition to affecting illiterate people in their daily lives and often mortgaging their future, this scourge affects society in a significant way, both socially and economically. The solution? Literacy education.

Impact on illiterate people

Limited ability to obtain and understand critical information;

Unemployment: the unemployment rate is two to four times higher among those with little education than among those with a bachelor’s degree;

Lower incomes;

Lower-quality jobs;

Reduced access to ongoing education and professional development;

Financial insecurity;

Low interest in education and reading in the family often resulting in intergenerational transmission of illiteracy;

Low self-esteem that can lead to isolation; and

Health consequences: illiterate people experience more accidents in the workplace, take longer to recover, and are often more likely to misuse medications due to lack of knowledge of health care resources and difficulty reading and understanding relevant information (warning, dosage, contraindication, etc.).

Impact on Quebec society

Without the basic tools necessary to achieve their goals, individuals with inadequate literacy cannot participate fully and equally in social and political discourse.

Slowing of the overall GDP growth rate in the long term.

Many jobs remain unfilled due to lack of trained workforce to fill them.

Difficulty understanding issues weakens citizens’ participation and community engagement.

Sources :

1Données sociales du Québec, édition 2009 (Social data on Quebec, 2009 edition), Institut de la statistique du Québec, , 2009

2Green, David A. and W. Craig Riddell, Literacy and the Labour Market: The Generation of Literacy and Its Impact on Earnings for Native-born Canadians, International Adult Literacy Survey (collection), Catalogue No. 89-552-MIE, No. 18, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, , 2007

3“Learning and Literacy: Canada’s Challenges,” Chapter 6 of State of Learning in Canada: No Time for Complacency, Section 6.3 “The literacy facts of life,” p. 88, Canadian Council on Learning,, 2007