Surveys and statistics

“Individuals’ knowledge and skills are a significant component of their individual well-being, but also an essential condition for a society’s development.”1

Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

An initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) led to the publication of a highly detailed survey of skills in literacynumeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE) among adults aged 16–65, in 24 countries and sub-national regions, including all of Canada’s provinces and territories. These core skills form the basis for cultivating other, higher-level skills necessary to functioning at home, school, and work, and in the community. Of the 27,000 Canadians aged 16–65 who took part, 5,900 were Quebecers. 

The survey published in October 2013 divided respondents into six levels of literacy, the first identifying adults who did not reach Level 1 (L0). 

4.1% of adults do not reach Level 1;

14.9% are at Level 1, for a total of 19%;

34.3% are ranked at Level 2;

while 46.8% place at Levels 3, 4 and 5.

Initial observations2

In Quebec, one person in five, or 19% of the population, is likely to find himself in a situation where he has great or very great difficulty reading and using the written word. In 2003, 16% of respondents were at that level.

One person in three (34.3%) in Quebec is likely to find himself in a situation where his ability to read will be in proportion to the presence of facilitating conditions or non-complex written environments. In 2003, 32.9% of respondents were at that level.

Fewer than one person in two (46.8%) in Quebec is likely to demonstrate a command of literacy skills enabling them to read with a view to learning, comprehending, acting or intervening completely autonomously. In 2003, 51.1% of respondents were at that level.

Statistics Canada and the Institut de la statistique du Québec will be publishing statistical reports in the next few months that will help present a detailed picture of the findings for the population of Canada and Quebec. These reports will be added as they are released.

Sources :

1PAGEAU, D. L’information continue Express, Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports (MELS),, 2005

2Des clés pour comprendre la littératie en 2014 : comment parvenir à une meilleure interprétation des résultats du PEICA en matière de littératie (Keys to understanding literacy in 2014: How to achieve a better interpretation of the findings of the IALSS with respect to literacy), Institut de coopération pour l’éducation des adultes, Hervé Dignard,, June 2014