Last week on April 16th, the federal government tabled its Main Estimates outlining its spending plan for 2018 – 2019.
Planned spending 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 remained the same as in the previous year. The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) will have $14,800,000 in grants and $3,209,000 in contributions for a total of $18,009,000 in fiscal year 2018 – 2019. This has been the same annual budget since 2016-2017. As I have written before, OLES spends well under half of this money each year.
With the tabling of the Main Estimates are two reports specific to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) – the 2016 – 2017 Department Results Report and the 2018 – 2019 Departmental Plan.
Literacy and essential skills activities for adult is mentioned once in the 2016-17 Results Report in a section discussing innovation.
The effectiveness of approaches to workplace literacy and essential skills training was also tested. Some 1,454 workers were contacted through the project, and literacy training was provided to 727 low-skilled Canadians in 88 companies across eight provinces. The result was improved literacy scores, superior job performance and job retention, and increased health and safety for workers as well as positive benefits for participating employers in terms of customer satisfaction, productivity gains and increased revenues.
There is no mention of which organization(s) led this project.
Youth directed literacy and essential skills activities are cited as part of the Youth Employment Strategy (YES). During 2016-17, ESDC focused on:
supporting young Canadians in improving their essential skills by funding projects, through YES, that are testing the effectiveness of innovative approaches;
continuing to work horizontally to integrate essential skills into federal, provincial and territorial labour market programming such as YES so that Canadians can benefit from an increased access to essential skills training. 
Again, no specific information about the nature of these projects are provided.
Unfortunately, no mention of literacy and essential skills is made in the 2018 – 2019 ESDC Department Plan other than to indicate that activities are funded.
Once again, we see the federal government shying away from any role in promoting or leading on adult literacy and essential skills policy and/or programming. I had expected that the Liberal government would have, by this point in its mandate, reversed the disastrous decisions of the previous government and restored federal leadership on this file.
Is it really too much to ask the federal government to make adult literacy a priority?
 Employment and Social Development Canada. 2016-17 Departmental Results Report. Page 69.
 Ibid. Page 38.