On September 8th, a statement from a network of organizations and researchers in adult education was released which included a series of questions for each of the political parties in the upcoming election (see my blog post: International Literacy Day – It’s time to get back on track). Last week we received the response of the NDP (see my blog post: The NDP provides the first response to questions on adult education and literacy.
Today we received the Liberals’ response in both French and English – you can read the full document here: Liberal Response
I look forward to hearing from the other federal parties on this important issue.
Here is the text of the Liberals’ response:
- What are your commitments with regard to adult literacy and skills development?
Liberal Response: It is critical that Canadians have the opportunity to improve their skills and work credentials, to help meet the needs of a modern economy and to ensure that Canadians have good-paying, middle class jobs. By investing in skills training for Canada’s labour force, Liberals are not only correcting the mistakes of the Harper decade – we are building a country that gives everyone a real and fair chance to succeed. Canadians deserve the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families and a Liberal government will work with the provincial and territories to ensure they have the literacy and other basic skills needed to succeed.
A Liberal government will increase investment in skills training, through a $750 million annual increase in funding for training programs delivered in partnership with the provinces and territories. This will include:
- A $500 million annual increase in funding to the Labour Market Development Agreements with provinces and territories.
- A $200 million annual increase in funding to be delivered by the provinces and territories and focused on training for workers who are not currently eligible for federal training investment. This will undo Stephen Harper’s cuts in 2014 to the Labour Market Agreements, which help Canadians outside the labour market get the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to find a decent job.
- Renewal and expansion of funding by $50 million of the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS). This will be delivered on a Nation-to-Nation and distinctions-based approach, which respects the unique realities of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation in the delivery of these programs and services to their communities.
In addition, we will invest $25 million per year in training facilities, partnering with labour unions so that more facilities have the equipment they need to train workers across the country.
- Will you commit to play a strong and positive leadership role in promoting literacy, according to federal jurisdiction? If so, how will this leadership be put into effect?
Liberal Response: Put simply, in the 21st century, literacy is the foundation of opportunity. That is why the federal government must adopt a leadership role in developing strategies to improve literacy rates. While local agencies and provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments are best placed to deliver programming in this area, a Liberal government will offer support. We will provide a $200 million increase in annual federal funding to be delivered by the provinces and territories help Canadians outside the labour market get the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to find a decent job. We will also reengage in areas on federal jurisdiction, such as education and literacy programs for Indigenous communities.
- Will your party commit to adopt measures that comply with constitutional obligations regarding the linguistic rights of Francophone Canadians who live in a minority context? If so, please provide concrete illustrations of this commitment.
Liberal Response: Canada was built on the idea that Francophones should be able to feel at home in this country, regardless of the province in which they live. It is largely due to our duality that we have become a society in which people from diverse cultures, origins, and religions can come, live, and feel at home. A Liberal government will act to promote and safeguard our two official languages because they are the foundation of our identity. We strongly affirm Canadians’ rights to use the official language of their choice. A Liberal government will make an iron-clad commitment that federal services will be delivered in full compliance with the Official Languages Act. We will also ensure judicial appointments to the Supreme Court are functionally bilingual.
Further, a Liberal government will look for opportunities to promote French language and culture, both in Québec and also for Francophones and francophone communities across the country. CBC/Radio-Canada is also a vital national institution that brings Canadians together, promotes and defends our two official languages, and supports our shared culture. Our public broadcaster reflects minority communities and is a vital voice throughout the country. The Harper government has cut $115 million from CBC/Radio-Canada’s annual budget, jeopardizing our public broadcaster’s ability to fulfill its mandate. We will invest $150 million in new annual funding for CBC/Radio-Canada, a commitment that reverses Harper’s cuts and goes even further to ensure that our national broadcaster is able to prosper in today’s media environment. We will work with CBC/Radio-Canada, and in consultation with the Canadian cultural community, on a new strategic plan that incorporates this renewed funding.
- Are you willing to fund a stable infrastructure that will allow for the fulfillment of multiple functions such as information, innovation, research and sharing of expertise in the field of literacy and skills development?
Liberal Response: Liberals understand the fundamental role that the not-for-profit sector plays in both policy development and program delivery for Canadians. The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to renewing the federal government’s partnership with civil society.
A Liberal government will work in collaboration with non-governmental organizations, including adult education providers and researchers, to explore more effective ways to provide funding for the important work you do. Our party understands that we must improve funding delivery mechanisms to support the not-for-profit sector to achieve accountability, while at the same time providing adequate, predictable, and stable funding.
Please keep an eye on RealChange.ca for more details in the days to come.
- Do you agree to integrate literacy and essential skills development into sectoral policies, where these aspects are relevant, such as, for example, employment policies, policies related to Aboriginal people, health, the environment, culture, and the promotion of official languages?
Liberal Response: The Liberal Party recognizes the vital importance of literacy skills in ensuring success in today’s society. A Liberal government will work in partnership with provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous governments to integrate literacy and essential skills development into sectoral policies, where relevant. This will include specific commitments such as a $200 million annual increase in funding to be delivered by the provinces and territories help Canadians outside the labour market get the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need, as well as significant new investments in Indigenous education and training initiatives.
- Do you support the inclusion of literacy and skills development funding in the Employment Insurance Fund and the Canada Job Grant?
Liberal Response: Employment Insurance is a crucial social and economic policy – it must do a better job at both helping Canadians when they need it, and supporting a well-trained, highly skilled workforce. We will work with provinces and territories to ensure that these new funds support their training priorities, support initiatives that demonstrate real pathways to good quality jobs, and develop the skills that employers need to grow our economy.
A Liberal Government will provide a $200 million annual increase in federal funding to be delivered by the provinces and territories focused on training for workers who are not currently eligible for federal training investment. This will undo Stephen Harper’s cuts in 2014 to the Labour Market Agreements, which help Canadians outside the labour market get the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to find a decent job.
- Will you implement Canada’s commitments to UNESCO and on the international stage in the fields of literacy and adult education (UNESCO’s Education 2030 Framework for Action (2015), Recommendation on the Development of Adult Education (2015), Bélem Framework for Action (2009) and Hamburg Declaration on Adult Education (1997))?
Liberal Response: Lifelong learning and literacy must become a Canada-wide priority to both enhance our standard of living and economic competitiveness in the years ahead because these skills are vital to ensuring employability and success in today’s society. Harper government’s decision to gut funding to organizations like the Canadian Council on Learning and abandon the federal role in lifelong learning has undermined both. The federal government has an important role to play, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, in supporting lifelong learning and adult literacy. Today, there are too many hard-working Canadians who are looking to upgrade their skills and find better jobs, but do not have access to the training that they require. A Liberal government will make it easier for adults to get the additional skills they need to acquire and retain good jobs throughout their working lives.
Moreover, for Canada to regain its leadership position on the world stage, we must live up to our international commitments and lead by example. Canada has been a leader in mobilizing support for adult education and learning since the First International Conference on Adult Education in 1949, however, in recent years the federal government has withdrawn from this critical area. The Liberal Party of Canada supports Canada’s historic commitments to support literacy and adult education by signing on to UNESCO’s Education 2030 Framework for Action (2015), the Recommendation on the Development of Adult Education (2015), the Bélem Framework for Action (2009) and the Hamburg Declaration on Adult Education (1997). While recognizing provincial and territorial jurisdiction in the area of education, we believe the federal government must do more to ensure implementation of these important accords. A Liberal government will work in partnership with other levels of government, including providing critical resources, to fulfill Canada’s international commitments regarding literacy and adult education.