REVISED – 2017-2018 Projects Funded by OLES


Last week I posted the federal government’s spending for the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program managed by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES). The only way I know to find this information is to wait for the annual Public Accounts report since neither the OLES website nor the ESDC site provide up-to-date information.

The Public Accounts list provides the name of the organization and the project title. The amount of money listed reflects how much was provided in the fiscal year. It is not necessarily the total amount and it is difficult to ascertain the future length of the project. Nevertheless, the information is useful to see what is happening in the world of adult literacy and essential skills.

One final note. OLES has not issued a call for proposals since 2015. From conversations I’ve had with organizations, funded projects are either the result of unsolicited proposals or of OLES reaching out to a small group of organizations to request proposals.

Organization Total Amount
Actions interculturelles de développement et d’éducation $            330,184.00
Alberta Rural Development Network $            436,008.00
Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne $            150,000.00
BioTalent Canada $            209,522.00
Bow Valley College $            371,891.00
BuildForce Canada $        1,211,547.00
Canadian Apprenticeship Forum|Forum canadien sur l’apprentissage $            150,000.00
Canadian Career Development Foundation|Fondation canadienne pour le développement de carrière $            249,700.00
Canadian Shareholder Association for Research and Education $            149,209.00
Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes $            101,784.00
Colleges and Institutes Canada, Ottawa, Ontario $            745,487.00
Community Business Development Corporation, Restigouche $            759,086.00
Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation, Montréal $            204,759.00
Construction Foundation of British Columbia Society $            148,713.00
Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia $            138,361.00
Environmental Careers Organization of Canada $            426,679.00
Excellence In Manufacturing Consortium of Canada $            403,896.00
Futureworx $            133,950.00
Government of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick $        2,500,000.00
Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services $            777,770.00
LearnSphere Canada Inc. $            403,347.00
Mining Industry Human Resources Council $            168,352.00
Mothers Matter Centre $            244,708.00
Native Education College $            200,437.00
NorQuest College $            315,858.00
Nunavut Literacy Council $        1,340,569.00
Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre $            490,345.00
Pathway to Possibilities Adult Learning and Employment Programs $            131,890.00
Raising the Roof|Chez Toit $            150,000.00
Saint John Learning Exchange $            315,348.00
Skanehionkwaioteh Incorporated $            196,192.00
Skills Canada $            210,193.00
Social Research And Demonstration Corporation $            201,776.00
Workplace Learning Prince Edward Island Inc. $            200,000.00
Yellowhead Tribal Development Foundation $            340,487.00
Young Women’s Christian Association of Canada $            804,790.00
Transfer payments under $100,000 (1 recipient) (Grants) $              98,960.00
Transfer payments under $100,000 (3 recipients) (Contributions) $              92,038.00
TOTAL $      15,312,838.00
Posted in Employment and Social Development Canada, ESDC, Essential Skills, Federal Government and Literacy, Literacy and Essential Skills, Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) | Leave a comment

Implementation of the New LMDA and WDA Agreements: Some Insight from British Columbia

Donna Wood shares information about BC’s approach to the LMDAs and the new Workforce Development Agreement.

The Welfare State Matters....

ASPECT (the Association of Service Providers for Employability and Career Training) has been the voice of BC’s community based training and workplace development service providers for over 30 years. Their annual fall conference provides an opportunity for people employed in the workforce development sector in British Columbia to come together, share perspectives, and re-energize for another year of helping the unemployed back to work. Participants at the November conference came from across BC, ranging from government officials, to executive directors of employment service agencies, to colleges, to front-line counselling staff.

 I was pleased to present the findings from my new book Federalism in Action: the Devolution of Canada’s Public Employment Service 1995-2015 alongside my colleagues Norma Strachan, the previous executive director of ASPECT and Valérie Roy, the current executive director of AXTRA in Québec. We had a good audience and insightful questions about the different governance choices that four…

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HEQCO makes questionable and problematic claims after completing pilot featuring OECD’s Education and Skills Online

Christine Pinsent-Johnson provides an insightful commentary about the recent study of literacy levels among post-secondary students. Worth a read.

Policy Problems

The Higher Education Quality Council (HEQCO) recently proclaimed that one-quarter of graduating students score below adequate on measures of literacy, numeracy  This was quickly mimicked in a Globe and Mail headline: One in four Ontario postsecondary students lacks basic literacy, numeracy skills, studies say. HEQCO came to the conclusion based on the results of their pilot study using OECD’s Education and Skills Online (ESO) assessment.

One of the main problems with the conclusion and the overall aim of the project—to ensure postsecondary institutions are producing productive workers—is that the determination of adequacy and minimal proficiency is based on a lie.

iStock_000003325294XSmall Credit: iStock

In their summary Harvey Weingarten, the president and CEO, and his team write the following:

HEQCO has identified Level 3 as the minimum required proficiency level for Ontario’s higher education graduates.

The project’s aims are also hooked into the very dangerous conceptualization of social worth and…

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Federal government spending on literacy and essential skills

Followers of my blog will know that I’ve been tracking the federal government’s spending on literacy and essential skills. One of my concerns has been the underspending by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) since the mid-2000s.

I am happy to report that the Liberal government is making progress towards spending 100% of the OLES annual budget (OLES also has the authority to use EI Part II funds. I’ve not been able to find a breakdown however of how much of these funds OLES spends ).

The information below is taken from Public Accounts 2018 which provides information on spending during fiscal year 2017-18.

The total allocation for grants and contributions to “not for profit, for-profit, and aboriginal organizations, municipal, provincial and territorial governments for adult learning, literacy and essential skills” was $18,009,000. Of that, $15,503,836 was spent leaving a balance of $2,505,164.


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More information on literacy resources

Two weeks ago I shared information about COPIAN and the status of information and resources on adult literacy and education. I received a few comments in response which I’d like to share.

From Dr. Allan Quigley:

For those reading this post, I wanted to add that the Saskatchewan Action Research Network (SARN) lost its provincial funding about three years ago. This was after 13 consecutive years of provincial funding. However, like COPIAN, the Saskatchewan Action Research Network website is still accessible and, if folks want to check it out, there are about 40 reports by SK practitioners who used action research as an approach to address real classroom-based challenges. Something like 2/3 of the province’s ABE instructors and many of its basic Ed counsellors were trained in campus-based workshops. The “best practices” reports of what was accomplished are still an important resource for those who don’t want to reinvent the wheel….and, more hopeful, at this year’s provincial SABEA conference, the remaining SARN team, comprised of 3 leading BE instructors, conducted another training workshop for conference participants. My last blog, as found on the SARN.CA website, gives an overview of what was accomplished in SK, and the fact that the training team carries on without funding is, I like to think, a testament to the resilience of our beleaguered field. Why not Check it out?

From Isabelle Coutant, CDÉACF

Thank you Brigid for emphasizing the importance of COPIAN and the need for relevant and up to date documentation. I wish to add that although CDÉACF works mainly in French, we do add resources in English to our database – as much as we can – and we hope to be able to do so even more.

From Linda Shohet, Former Executive Director, Centre for Literacy

Some material from The Centre was transferred to ERIC in the US, but I have been paying to maintain the web site ( with many of the research reports and Summer Institute documents (although not easy to search).  I am currently talking with CDEACF about their taking some of the materials (they have a person on a grant who can select all the French documents, of which there are a fair number) and I hope to find other homes for the most pertinent before I let the site die.  I haven’t given up yet.

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A national resource – COPIAN

For more than 25 years, anyone interested in resources related to adult literacy could consult the extensive library of NALD, later called COPIAN. This online database held hundreds of thousands of documents – research papers, curricula, project reports, conference proceedings. Across the country and internationally, COPIAN served as the go-to place for information.

I realized the other day while attending a meeting with literacy folk from across the country, that over four years has passed since COPIAN closed and many who had joined the field since then did not know the history or that the COPIAN library still exists, albeit with no new documents added to the collection.

When COPIAN closed in 2014, le Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine (CDÉACF) generously offered to house the online library on its server in partnership with the Centre for Literacy and le Réseau pour le développement de l’alphabétisation et des compétences (RESDAC). These three organizations had previously rescued key documents on adult literacy when Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (now Employment and Social Development Canada) closed its departmental library.

Subsequently the Centre for Literacy closed and with it the extensive library and the annual summer institutes. RESDAC continues to exist with volunteers.

COPIAN, RESDAC and the Centre for Literacy were all victims of the funding changes made by the previous government in 2014. While a number of organizations were negatively affected, the loss of COPIAN’s and the Centre for Literacy’s libraries were especially devastating. Knowledge, history, resources would no longer be acquired and shared. (You can read about the fight to save COPIAN here: Mainstay of Canada’s literacy movement topples)

When I was with the National Literacy Secretariat, we advised groups to send their project reports and materials to NALD/COPIAN, believing that these documents would be retained and available in perpetuity.

The database was a way to determine if anyone else had done similar work – let’s not reinvent the wheel, to find partners for collaboration and to disseminate information across the country. Today, no central place exists to house documents. The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) has a database of projects which has not been updated since about 2010 (the government’s Public Accounts lists OLES funding recipients but without information on the nature of the project).

How can organizations shape projects when they do not know who has done work previously? How can OLES know that a project is worthwhile without knowing what has already been done? How can adult literacy organizations better serve their clients without having access to research, curricula, and innovative approaches?

Canada was once the envy of the world with its adult literacy infrastructure. Connections were important as were research and facts. Today people are working in their own silos without the benefits of information, knowledge, and connectivity.

COPIAN still is the first place I look for information about adult literacy. Even if the material has not been updated, it still is the best/only repository of Canadian audlt literacy knowledge.

You can get to the COPIAN library via this link:

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Employment and Social Development Canada, ESDC, Federal Government and Literacy, Literacy and Essential Skills, National Literacy Secretariat (NLS), Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Remembering Glenda Lewe

I would like to acknowledge the passing of Glenda Lewe, an early pioneer in the field of workplace literacy in Canada.

I first met Glenda in 1984 when she worked at Secretary of State where I also worked. She wrote speeches, I wrote policy. Our paths crossed again in 1989 when I was asked to take on Glenda’s role as the officer responsible for the National Literacy Secretariat’s business and labour portfolio as well as workplace literacy. Glenda was off to work on a major project with Dr. Maurice Taylor on literacy task analysis, an assignment that launched her into a successful consulting career.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, workplace literacy was a new concept and we were all learning about important techniques such as the literacy task analysis, the organizational needs assessment, workplace project teams and customized curriculum. The importance of this early work can not be underestimated. Glenda’s contribution to the field lay the foundation for what continues today as workplace literacy and essential skills.

I pulled up a list of Glenda’s publications which shows some of her work.

  • Taylor, Maurice and Glenda Lewe. Literacy Task Analysis. A How to Manual for Workplace Trainers. 1990.
  • Taylor, Maurice C. and Glenda R. Lewe. Basic Skills Training: A Launchpad for Success in the Workplace. Literacy Task Analysis Project. Final Technical Report. National Literacy Secretariat, Ottawa, Ontario. 1990.
  • Taylor, Maurice; Glenda Lewe; James Draper, eds, Basic Skills for the Workplace. Toronto, 1991.
  • Lewe, Glenda. Basic Skills in the Total Quality Workplace. 1994.
  • Lewe, Glenda R. Learning in a Quality Environment: An Individual and Corporate Challenge. Culture Concepts Books, 1995.
  • Lewe, Glenda and Carol D. MacLeod. Step into the World of Workplace Learning: A Collection of Authentic Workplace Materials. Ottawa, Ontario: Human Resources Development Canada. 2001.

My condolences to her husband Peter and her family.

Glenda Lewe obituary

Posted in Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Policy, Essential Skills, Literacy and Essential Skills, National Literacy Secretariat (NLS), Workplace Literacy | Tagged | 1 Comment