Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating Literacy Action Day. Advocates from Nova Scotia and every corner of Canada are here to press for a desperately needed pan-Canadian literacy plan to develop a quality adult literacy and education system, to address barriers to learning and social inclusion, to develop and share knowledge and to develop partnerships for a learning society.
Of Canadians aged 16 to 65, 42% lack minimum literacy skills. Studies show a 1% rise in literacy skills will drive a 2.5% increase in labour productivity and a 1.5% increase in GDP. That is $13 billion each and every year.
It is bad enough that the federal government imposes GST on books. To expand the GST to include books and CD-ROMs makes a mockery of the limited literacy support from the government. This counterproductive measure must be reversed and more resources invested in a comprehensive literacy plan in the upcoming budget.
The private member's bill that I will be introducing will remove GST from books and pamphlets. It is a small step toward helping increase literacy in Canada.