FREDERICTON (GNB) – As part of the efforts to implement a comprehensive literacy strategy, the provincial government is inviting New Brunswickers to submit their ideas to the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.

“In order to grow the economy, we need to improve literacy skills to develop a qualified workforce,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “There is an urgent need to invest in our people through literacy programs. By addressing these issues now, we will have a stronger New Brunswick for our children and our communities.”

New Brunswick organizations and individuals have until August 7 to make submissions online.

“We are pleased to begin the development of a progressive, inclusive literacy strategy that will address the challenges we face in the short and long-term,” said strategy co-chair Marilyn Trenholme Counsell. “We encourage everyone to be part of the solution.”

“We want New Brunswick to be a place where lifelong learning is embraced and people have an opportunity to develop the skills they need to reach their potential in the workforce and thrive in their communities,” said co-chair Liane Roy. “Literacy is at the heart of this goal. However, much needs to be done to improve literacy skills among residents of New Brunswick of all ages.”

Low literacy rates have been identified as an obstacle to developing a skilled workforce. In 2013, the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies found that almost one in five adults in New Brunswick (18.5 per cent) have reading and writing skills that fall below the national average. Among this group, 25 per cent are without a job and almost half do not have a high school diploma or a similar certification.

“Our government wants to foster lifelong learning and ensure that New Brunswickers of all ages have access to the help they need in developing crucial literacy skills,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Francine Landry. “I encourage all New Brunswick individuals and organizations to make a submission to the Literacy Secretariat and be a part of the solution.”