March 4, 2011—The Canadian Council of Learning (CCL) has launched a new online tool that allows users to measure the state of two crucial components of financial literacy—numeracy and document literacy—in more than 52,000 neighbourhoods and communities across the country.
The two new interactive maps produced by CCL, in partnership with DataAngel Policy Research Inc., provide literacy profiles for neighbourhoods across Canada, highlighting at-risk communities where residents lack the basic literacy skills needed in today’s knowledge-based society. These new literacy domains add to earlier maps CCL released on health literacy and prose literacy.
The literacy maps* are available on the CCL website.
The results show that 55 percent of adult Canadians (aged 16 and over) had low levels of numeracy and 49 percent had low levels of document literacy. (This is based on the number of people who scored below Level 3 on the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS), a survey conducted by Statistics Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.)
Numeracy and document literacy are essential parts of what many consider “basic literacy” and provide a key foundation in developing a more sophisticated set of financial literacy skills.
“Canadians are increasingly faced with a complex array of financial decisions in their everyday lives— from choosing a mortgage and retirement planning to managing consumer debt and funding postsecondary education,” says Dr. Paul Cappon, President and CEO of CCL. “Yet, many Canadians do not have the financial literacy skills needed to make informed decisions related to money and investment.”
Numeracy is the ability to use basic math skills in everyday life. It includes such skills as calculating a tip at a restaurant, balancing a bank account or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement.
Document literacy is the ability to find and use information in forms, charts, graphs and other tables. Financial literacy involves the use of multiple literacies—prose, document, numeracy—often simultaneously.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines five levels of literacy with level 1 being the lowest and level 5 being the highest. Level 3 is internationally accepted as the level of literacy considered necessary for meeting the demands of everyday life and work in an informationbased society.
“The first step in any process of improvement is to be able to accurately measure change over time. CCL’s innovative maps help Canadian communities, and the country as a whole, determine current literacy levels,” says Cappon. “I hope that decision-makers and individuals throughout Canada will use these maps for the purpose of continuous improvement.”
* The maps were produced using estimates generated by DataAngel Policy Research Inc. using data from the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALSS) conducted by Statistics Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the 2006 Canadian Census.
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The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit corporation. Its mandate is to provide evidence-based information to Canadians so they can make the best decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood through to the senior years.
For more information, please contact:
T. Scott Murray
DataAngel Policy Research Inc.