Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues in this place to imagine life without the ability to read. Books, magazines and newspapers become mysterious puzzles rather than open doors to the world. Try to imagine the frustration and sense of hopelessness.
In the speech from the throne our government made a commitment to improving the literacy skills of Canadians by restoring funding to the national literacy program. I applaud this decision.
Inadequate literacy skills can have devastating effects. Thousands of Canadians find themselves unable to fully participate in society and Canada's ability to train its work force to compete internationally is compromised.
An effort must be made to adapt all of the workforce to the changing workplace. This includes those who have been left behind.
In my riding of Algoma, literacy offices have been successfully established in Blind River, Espanola and Elliot Lake. The staff and volunteers who work in these communities understand the frustration felt by our fellow citizens who cannot read and I commend their efforts.
During my life I have had an opportunity to work in adult education. It is too easy to forget that thousands of adult Canadians cannot take full advantage of basic retraining and upgrading because they cannot read.