Literacy is essential to a community’s economic development whether it is Cornwall, Toronto or any other community.
At one time a literate individual was one who could read or write. It did not matter to what extent. Today’s definition includes the 9 Essential Skills that are assigned levels beginning with easier tasks to more complicated tasks. When this expanded definition is draped across populations, countries find that even more persons than anticipated, have poor literacy skills. This includes the City of Cornwall. Using a traditional definition of literacy as in the case of Statistics Canada (it uses completion of grade levels) we find that Cornwall ranks below provincial averages.
In terms of economic development it means that we need to increase our upgrading programs to continually create a viable workforce. Cornwall, like any city is striving for sustained economic growth. To do so, it must create a workforce with the skills required to meet an ever-changing economy, and therefore, it is important we ensure our economy is diversified. Companies research an area prior to setting up business. Among the many items they investigate, is details concerning a workforce. If the workforce is unskilled, and it is skilled labour they need, they move on. We must be careful in Cornwall that literacy issues are never used as an excuse for business to set up in our community thinking they can pay lower wages.
We have a wonderful post secondary institution, perhaps a university is in the future. In the meantime, we also have a large segment of the population who require upgrading beginning with literacy and essential skills. We cannot forget this population as statistics show they are young and able to contribute to growing our economy.
You cannot separate literacy and economy. One only has to look at underdeveloped countries to understand how critical literacy is to keeping a nation free, strong and independent.
Board of Directors
- Barbara Petepiece (Chairperson)
- Carol Potts (Past Chairperson)
- Shirley Fraser (Secretary)
- Angus Kelly (Treasurer)
- Denise Paquette (HR Consultant)
- Catherine Levac (Member at Large)
- Geraldine McGowan (Executive Director)
There are many people involved with the agency as volunteers serving in different capacities. Students from local high schools and St. Lawrence College also do community placements with Tri-County Literacy Council.