Press release

Literacy Is Improving in Québec but Issues Remain

Montréal, March 24, 2021 – As part of the second edition of the AlphaRéussite event, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and the Literacy Foundation today unveiled an update to the study “La littératie comme source de croissance économique” (Literacy as a driver of economic growth) (Langlois, 2018), which looked at the socioeconomic impact of Québec’s lagging literacy rates. Three years later, the economist Pierre Langlois reports on the situation, which shows a slight improvement among people between the ages of 16 and 65.

According to projections based on data from the 2012 Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), the percentage of individuals aged 16 to 65 with literacy issues decreased from 53.2% in 2012 to 46.7% in 2020. This improvement in the literacy level of Quebecers is attributable to the aging of the population, the continuous progress made in the fight against school dropout and school re-entry, and in the number of college and university graduates. 

With such a result, Québec is clearly improving on the literacy front, but with nearly one in two people dealing with literacy issues, significant challenges remain at a time when the economy is undergoing a digital and technological transformation. 

Mr. Langlois’ projections also reveal that a large number of seniors (65 years and over) fail to achieve Level 3 proficiency (64.5%). These poor results are explained by a lower level of education than the younger generations and by a decline in literacy skills over the years. 


“I would like to commend the Literacy Foundation for its colossal and remarkable work in the fight against illiteracy. Although challenges remain, Québec has improved its literacy rate. The study’s updated results show that we’re on the right track. We must continue to work together to promote tools and training that will help integrate people removed from the labour market, whom we so badly need. By improving literacy skills, we advance social inclusion and employment, and this directly affects the economic and social well-being of all Quebecers.”

Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, and Minister Responsible for the Mauricie Region


“At the Literacy Foundation, we see firsthand how Québec workers are being affected by the pandemic. Since March 2020, there has been a sharp increase in requests for our Adult Learnline and Info-Alpha referral services for training. We’re also receiving more calls from seniors who want to develop basic digital literacy skills. That said, we need allies to equip all Quebecers in their learning process, regardless of their needs.”

André Huberdeau, President of the Literacy Foundation


“Everyone needs the right literacy skills to get a good job, and every business needs skilled workers to be successful. This will be even truer in the coming decades as digital, technological and energy transformations fundamentally change our economy and the labour market. While we must continue investing in education and continuing education, we also have to think about supporting companies and their workers in these transformations so that no one is left behind.”

Serge Cadieux, Executive Vice-President, Business Development, Savings Market, and Centre de formation économique, at the Fonds de solidarité FTQ


“Improving the literacy of Quebecers is a societal issue that concerns us all. We must continue the efforts to improve in this regard because our collective future is at stake, and because our ability as a progressive society to offer equal opportunity for all depends on it. Knowing how to read and write is the foundation for being able to participate in democratic debate and for personal and professional development.”

Brian Myles, Editor, Le Devoir


“We can see that Quebec’s literacy rate is improving due to the aging of the population, the increase in the 7-year high-school graduation rate and the growth in the number of university graduates.

Pierre Langlois, economist and author of “La littératie comme source de croissance économique”



About the Fonds de solidarité FTQ

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ invests to build a better society by channelling the savings of its 700,000 shareholders into development and risk capital investments to help Québec transition to a green economy, to a human-centred world of work, and to a healthier society. The Fonds offers businesses unsecured financing and strategic support. With $15.6 billion in net assets as at November 30, 2020, the Fonds has supported more than 3,300 partner companies and over 220,000 jobs. To learn more, visit


About the Literacy Foundation

Founded in 1989, the Literacy Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to support adults and children so they can develop their ability to read and write. The Foundation is active in all the regions of Québec.


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