#VoteCharitably Open Letter | Lettre Ouverte

Charities, non-profits and voluntary organizations have come together with the chair and co-chair of the Senate’s committee on the charitable sector to call upon parties and candidates to address what they term a “slowly intensifying crisis”.

The letter highlights 8 recommendations for the political parties to consider:

  1. Establishing a secretariat to create a home for the sector within the federal government beyond the Canada Revenue Agency;
  2. Updating federal grants and contribution agreements to cover certain overhead and administrative costs, and to replace precarious funding opportunities with long-term commitments; 
  3. Implementing a national volunteerism strategy to recognize this country’s dedicated volunteers and encourage more Canadians to contribute to the betterment of their communities;
  4. Initiating a human resources renewal plan to promote decent work and pensions for workers in the sector;
  5. Investing in more Statistics Canada programs that collect and analyze data on the sector, as well as the regular and predictable deployment of the General Social Survey and the Satellite Account of Non-Profit Institutions and Volunteering;
  6. Moving the appeals of Canada Revenue Agency decisions on the rejection and suspension of charitable status from the Federal Court of Appeals to the Tax Court of Canada;
  7. Examining ways to increase capital and revenue streams for the sector and strengthening and growing Canada’s donor base; and
  8. Working with the sector to modernize Canada’s charity laws and regulations, including through the CRA’s Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector.

You can read the letter here: VoteCharitably Open Letter

The Senate committee released a report in June, Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector. While focused on the charitable sector, the report makes 42 recommendations many of which affect the non-profit sector as well. For example, the report calls for a minimum of two years for federal funding and application and reporting requirements commensurate with the level of funding. The report is worth a read: Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector


Posted in Federal Election 2019, Senate of Canada | Leave a comment

What to ask in this election

A national network of organizations, people and researchers concerned about adult literacy in Canada has prepared a list of questions for all 21 political parties involved in the federal election. The responses will be shared later in the campaign.

Here are the questions – please feel free to use them with local candidates:

  1. What is your party’s position on establishing a national adult literacy policy?
  2. How will your party support collaboration and coordination across government and stakeholders to best support our population’s potential?
  3. How will your party integrate literacy and essential skills development into sectoral policies in areas like employment, health, the environment, settlement, culture, the promotion of the Official Languages, and work with Indigenous peoples?
  4. How is your party prepared to commit to federal funding for literacy?
  5. How will your party address the particular literacy needs of Indigenous peoples, people living in official language minority communities, and newcomers to Canada? 
  6. What is your party’s plan with respect to implementing Canada’s commitments to UNESCO and on the international stage in the fields of literacy and adult education?
  7. How will your party convene conversations about lifelong learning for adults experiencing challenges because of lower literacy skills?
  8. How will you address the fundamental learning needs of those adults who are unable to transition to jobs in the new economy because of lower literacy skills?

The questions and the documents that accompany these questions can be found here:

They are also at http://cdeacf.ca/actualite/2019/09/06/pour-succes-investissez-alphabetisation

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Essential Skills, Federal Election 2019, Federal Government and Literacy, Literacy and Essential Skills | 3 Comments

Future Skills Council – Summary of Preliminary Engagement

The Future Skills Council, not to be confused with the Future Skills Centre, recently released a summary report of its consultations with stakeholders (Future Skills Council Summary of Preliminary Engagement). The Council, you may recall, was appointed by Minister Patty Hajdu to develop a strategic plan on priorities related to emerging and in-demand skills. Its members come from all sectors (see Future Skills Council membership announced).

The Council heard from almost 400 individuals from over 150 organizations. Much of what it heard is not new – lack of high quality, timely labour market information, structural barriers and skills shortages.

However, I was impressed that number 3 on its list of 7 challenges/opportunities was Essential Skills.

Too often essential skills and literacy are submerged under a call for skills development and not dealt with separately. The report notes that essential skills need to be incorporated into “all facets of skills development policies and programming,” acknowledging the challenges and vulnerability faced by those with low skill levels.

The report also references the need to review these skills in today’s context. This is currently the focus of an Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) effort to modernize the Essential Skills Framework. That effort is led by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) with an advisory group made up of people involved in creating, using and promoting Essential Skills.

The Future Skills Council report lists seven opportunities and challenges:

  1. Lack of sufficient high quality, relevant, timely, and accessible labour market information
  2. Structural barriers and skills shortages
  3. Essential skills
  4. Need for lifelong learning
  5. New and emerging models of learning and training
  6. Employer involvement in skills development
  7. Support individuals and groups at higher risk of the negative affects of disruptive change.

Next up for the Council is the strategic plan which it will release in winter 2020.

I’m still not clear how the Future Skills Council and the Future Skills Centre relate to one another.

The Future Skills Centre issued a $36 million call for proposals in August to address one of three questions:

  • How can we best support Canadians facing labour market disruption to transition to new jobs or industries?
  • How can employers be more effectively engaged in developing and delivering demand-driven solutions to skills gap challenges?
  • How can skills development systems be optimized, building up the capacity of service providers and encouraging collaboration between organizations?

In July, 10 projects with $7.65M were announced from the first call for proposals on the topic Support for Mid-Career Workers (https://fsc-ccf.ca/what-we-do/innovation-projects/#mid-career).

So far, none of the 10 projects or the call for proposals has specifically mentioned essential skills or literacy. One of the Inaugural innovation projects announced last spring focuses on “essential employability skills training for Indigenous and Northern youth.” I hope that future projects address the issues faced by adults with low literacy and essential skills.

I’ll be watching to see if and how the findings of the Council influence the work of the Centre.


Posted in Employment and Social Development Canada, ESDC, Essential Skills, Federal Government and Literacy, Future Skills Centre, Future Skills Council, Labour Market Information, Literacy and Essential Skills, Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES), Skills | 2 Comments

AWES Project Announcement

Alberta Workplace Essential Skills (AWES) has received funding from the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) to ramp up its “Integrating the Essential Skills Tools into the Employment Counselling Process in Alberta” to the national level. You can read about the “Guided Pathways” project here: 

Posted in Alberta Workforce Essential Skills (AWES), Employment and Social Development Canada, ESDC, Essential Skills, Literacy and Essential Skills, Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) | Leave a comment

International Literacy Day statement

A group of organizations and individuals committed to promoting literacy for all has prepared material for the upcoming federal election. We are releasing these in advance of September 8th, International Literacy Day.

Attached is the ILD statement “Choose Success” which includes a list of signatories and a backgrounder “The State of Literacy in Canada.” These documents are available for you to distribute and/or use in your newsletters or communications channels. I have the documents in French if you need them.

The group will also be preparing a set of question to put to the federal political parties in advance of the 2019 federal election. We will share these so you may, if you wish, use them with your local candidates.

Please use the hashtag #literacy4all or #alphabétisationpourtous.

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Federal Election 2019, Federal Government and Literacy, International Literacy Day, Literacy and Essential Skills, Public Opinion on Literacy | 2 Comments

The Mowat Centre closes

Another policy think tank has closed its doors. The Mowat Centre closed its doors this week. The announcement cited the cancellation of its funding agreement with the Ontario government as the reason.

The Mowat Centre focused on policy related to Ontario. However, in recent years, as other policy think tanks were shuttered, the Mowat Centre took on more of a national role, although from an Ontario point of view.

The Research Initiative on Education + Skills was of interest to me. This project, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) looks at data about education, skills, and labour market outcomes to inform policy development. In its final release, the Mowat Centre states that this work will be continued by its research partner the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

The Centre’s website with its research reports will be hosted by the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy https://munkschool.utoronto.ca/mowatcentre/

To make good public policy, one needs good evidence. With yet another think tank closed, Canadian public policy making is in a fragile state.

Posted in Employment and Social Development Canada, ESDC, Labour Market Information, Skills | Tagged , | Leave a comment