Canadian government investing $17.6 million to improve digital literacy

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: March 20, 2023

On March 13, 2023, the Government of Canada announced that 23 different not-for-profit organizations across the country will receive funding to aid in the advancement of digital literacy among Canadians through the Digital Literacy Exchange Program (DLEP).

The list of organizations receiving funding from the government can be found here.

Note: The DLEP, since its inception in 2018, has sought to “equip Canadians with the necessary skills to engage with computers. Mobile devices and the Internet safely, securely and effectively”

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In other words, according to the government press release, “this significant investment will support the organizations in teaching digital literacy skills to those who need it most.”

Digital literacy among recent immigrants to Canada

Oftentimes, the newest Canadians immigrate from countries where digital literacy is not as big of a focus as it is in Canada.

In fact, according to Wiley’s Digital Skills Gap Index (DSGI) 2021, seven of Canada’s top ten recent immigrant source countries (between 2016 and 2021, via the 2021 census) rank below 45th place for “digital skills among population.”

For reference, Canada ranks 19th according to Wiley’s DSGI.

Meanwhile, here are where those seven countries ranked, ordered by the percentage of Canadian immigrants from each country.

India, the source country of 18.6% of Canadian immigrants between 2016 and 2021, was ranked 59th by Wiley. China – the birthplace of 8.9% of Canada’s immigrants in those five years – was ranked 46th. What follows will showcase the remaining five countries alongside the percentage of recent Canadian immigrants from that country and their ranking on Wiley’s DSGI.

  • Syria (4.8%) – Unranked
  • Nigeria (3.0%) – 119th
  • Pakistan (2.7%) – 77th
  • France (2.0%) – 54th
  • Iran (1.9%) – 79th

Note: The other three nations in Canada’s top 10 immigrant source countries all ranked inside the top 30 of Wiley’s rankings.

The Philippines, from which 11.4% of Canada’s immigrants arrived between 2016 and 2021, was ranked 21st. The United States (3.0% of Canadian immigrants) ranked 12th. Finally, the United Kingdom (1.7%) ranked 29th.

How this investment can help our newest Canadians

This digital literacy investment from the Government of Canada will aid Canadians, including recent immigrants, by helping sharpen their skills and increase their comfort level with digital technologies.

Developing these skills will be vital to the long-term success of all Canadians, but especially recent immigrants, because Canada’s workforce is rapidly becoming more digital.

As noted in the government press release, “whether booking a medical appointment, doing online transactions, studying, working or looking for a job, Canadians need to be able to use the Internet safely, securely and effectively.”

Noting the value of having a robust digital skillset, the press release emphasizes the value of this investment by stating that “learning these skills and understanding digital technology will not only reduce barriers to accessing valuable information and resources but also open up opportunities for all Canadians to succeed in everyday life.”

Accordingly, as all Canadians take advantage of the resources provided through this investment, the newest members of Canada’s population will be especially well-positioned to develop their digital literacy skills and utilize such skills to help them grow and maintain successful careers and lives across this country.

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