Atikokan’s Learning Centre Provides Local Residents Skills for Employment

April Girard, Atikokan; Allison Mullin, OLC; Vijaya Chikermane, OLC; Jeannine Stus, Atikokan; Melanie Luptak, Atikokan

Atikokan Literacy Incorporated’s Adult Learning Centre is more than just a literacy program: it’s a community of people who come together to learn, talk and support each other through life’s ups and downs. That’s what OLC learned after spending the day there last Thursday – the first stop on our road trip through Ontario.

Atikokan is a small (just over 3000 people), rural community about two and a half hours northeast of Thunder Bay.  Its literacy program is the only one of its kind in the area – meaning its six full-time staff members are a busy group.

Atikokan’s Learning Centre offers a variety of programs, including General Education Development (G.E.D.), Academic Career Entrance (A.C.E.), intro to computers, reading, writing, math and many more areas, including specific grant programs.

Since mining is also a growing industry in the area – mining companies are currently prospecting land around Atikokan in hopes that mining sites will soon be built, creating hundreds of jobs in the area – Atikokan’s Learning Centre has now completed two mining training courses. These courses take students into the wilderness, teaching them basics such as safety training, reading a compass, line tracing and many other skills that will give them the training needed to gain employment when these mines  eventually open.

Holiday Potluck at Atikokan's Adult Learning Centre

It’s a small program doing important work. More information about Atikokan Literacy Inc. and its staff that participated in OLC’s Spotlight on Learning: Becoming Agents of Change conference will be made available on OLC’s upcoming Spotlight on Learning website, coming end-of-January 2011.  And stay tuned over the coming weeks as OLC continues to highlight Agents of Change in the literacy field!

Skills for the 21st Century

In these current economic times, the issue of the lack of skilled labour is increasingly coming to the forefront. Workers who have been laid off are finding that the new jobs available require higher skills levels. In a recent article by the Globe and Mail, Rick Miner, the past president of Toronto’s Seneca College and a former management professor, claims that there “will be an expanding pool of unskilled workers looking for jobs and an even larger number of companies that cannot find the workers they require.”

In its presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the OLC  pointed out the value of increased and sustained funding for adult learning programs: “Investment in literacy and skills training generates a payback for individuals, but it also accelerates growth in the economy and in productivity, and improves the government’s fiscal balance.”

To help Ontarians find the Employment Services they need, Employment Ontario has released fact sheets for each region of the province . To view the sheets, click here.

Nowhere more than in Ontario has the current recession signalled a profound restructuring in the economy. The demand for skills upgrading in this new economy cannot be ignored if Ontario wishes to compete globally and increase its productivity.

Update on LLO Literacy Awareness Day

Left to right, Gary Porter, LLO Board member and former literacy student; Sue Bannon, LLO President; and Kevin Flynn, MPP for Oakville and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister for Training, Colleges and Universities.

Laubach Literacy Ontario (LLO) continued their fight for adult literacy programming by holding a Literacy Awareness Day at Queen’s Park on Monday, November 23rd. The purpose of the event was to thank the Government of Ontario and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) for additional funding this year and to stress the need for increased funding.

Overall the event was a success, says Sue Bannon, President of LLO and Executive Director of the Midland Area Reading Council.  She, along with the assistance of her local MPP, Garfield Dunlop, organized the event, which drew together 60 learners, volunteers and practitioners to meet with approximately 20 MPP’s or their aids. Representatives from the Ontario Literacy Coalition, Community Literacy of Ontario, and AlphaPlus Centre were also on hand at the event to lend support.

Community-based literacy programs have not received a cost-of-living increase in more than 10 years.  While a 2-year infusion of funds has helped address severe waiting lists of adult learners wanting to upgrade their skills to get employment or further their education, the lack of sustainable, adequate funding remains the single greatest issue for most programs across Ontario.

To read more and see pictures from the event, go to the link below:

Budget Update

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan released his fall economic statement on October 22.

The deficit is predicted to come in significantly higher than budgeted (now at $24.7 billion), but it doesn’t look like any in-year expenditure reductions are seen to be in order at this moment. Rather, the Government continues to focus on people and jobs. We do need to be concerned about the program review, now underway, which will lay the groundwork for a significant plan of action in the spring 2010 Budget.

As anticipated, this document also begins the pre-budget consultation process. Communities where round tables will be happening will be announced in November. We can also encourage literacy stakeholders to participate in the electronic on-line consultation. Follow party leaders, ministers and members of provincial parliament through their website, facebook, twitter or your favourite social networking tool. Send your comments – written or electronic – to their offices and participate in community round tables.

OLC full analysis of the fall economic update.

$33 Million for Literacy

On Thursday, July 2, 2009, the Honourable John Milloy – Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and Minister of Research and Innovation – announced $33 million in funding for adult literacy:

  • $20,000 flat rate increase for delivery programs plus a 25% increase based on current funding
  • $20,000 flat rate increase for umbrella and support organizations
  • $5 million for e-learning
  • $3 million for research and development

After more than a decade of stagnant funding, how you feel about this announcement? What do you think of the role of the OLC in this process? What is your organization going to do with the allotted funds? Share your ideas, plans and strategies with your colleagues in the field.

Learning Centres Enter Phase 2

Fifty-seven (57) school boards, colleges and community agencies submitted Expressions of Interest (EOI) outlining an Adult Learning Centre Demonstration Project. Fifteen (15) Expressions of Interest were successful – i.e. were selected for proposal development funding (Phase 2). A full list of the successful EOIs can be found at

The EOIs entering Phase 2 span the province with two projects in the northern region, five in the central region, four in the southwestern region and four in the eastern region.

All successful EOIs included an element surrounding the current economic environment (displaced workers, the economy, etc.) and an element surrounding immigrant, citizenship or settlement issues. Two successful EOIs focused on Aboriginal communities, three successful EOIs were francophone-based and 14 out of 15 successful EOIs had a youth component.

An inter-ministerial committee reviews all submissions (Expressions of Interest and Proposals). This committee consists of eight members among the three learning ministries – the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. [Other expertise are drawn upon when appropriate.]

Please note that proposals within Phase 2 are due Friday, September 4 not September 5 as originally communicated. Final projects are still to be chosen from the aforementioned 15 Expressions of Interest. Announcements are expected in the fall.


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