Literacy Matters: Helping Newcomers Unlock Their Potential (2009)

The aim of this report is to draw attention to challenges at hand and encourage conversation with policymakers and stakeholders. Newcomers are a primary source of additional workers to the labour market, and their importance is steadily rising due to the slowing trend in domestic population growth.

After a review of recent trends and developments, the main conclusion is that newcomers to Canada are facing significant literacy challenges in the two official languages and it is impairing their labour market outcomes. Weaker than- desirable proficiency in English and French amongst newcomers is leading to higher unemployment, social isolation, lower earnings and is exposing many immigrants to living in poverty for some period of time after arriving in Canada. Clearly there is an enormous economic and social cost associated with underutilization of newcomer human capital.

During their regular contact with newcomers, managers can help build awareness of the economic payoff from the use of the available literacy programs. Businesses are also encouraged to conduct in-house language training or subsidize the cost of attending language training if possible. Even little things might help, such as having a flexible workplace environment that permits workers to attend literacy programs during work hours might go a long way to increasing participation. Finally, it is critical that greater effort is made to evaluate the existing language and literacy programs.

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APA citation
TD Bank Financial Group and Craig Alexander. Literacy Matters: Helping Newcomers Unlock Their Potential 2009. Web. 29 Sep. 2022 <>
TD Bank Financial Group & Craig Alexander (2009). Literacy Matters: Helping Newcomers Unlock Their Potential. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
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