I read most of the big papers in Canada (or at least scan them for relevant content). Lately, there have been a number of stories about New Brunswick. There were several on the irony of Canada’s only officially bilingual province scrapping early French Immersion and this little ditty in the Globe & Mail entitled “Half of N.B. adults have low literacy skills: report”.
Literacy is certainly a multifaceted problem but there are at least several economic-based contributors to low literacy (at least):
1. The New Brunswick economy has always had a higher than average percentage of jobs that did not require even average levels of literacy. Mining, fishing, forestry, construction, even quite a few service industry jobs do not. In addition, New Brunswick lags behind in ‘new’ economy jobs. I realize the chicken and egg reality of this.
2. Out-migration is coorelated with education levels. People with low literacy are far less mobile than those that have a higher level of education. The recent oil sands migration is the exception to that rule.