Canada Commits $30 Million to Provide Digital Literacy for Every Citizen

A new program has been unveiled to provide basic computer skills training to those Canadians who need it the most.

The Government of Canada has launched the Digital Literacy Exchange Program, recognizing that digital skills are critical to the success of the middle-class and succeeding in today’s society. Learning how to embrace a digital world involves everything from booking a medical appointment to banking safely.

The Digital Literacy Exchange Program will invest close to $30 million to support non-profit organizations that teach fundamental digital literacy skills to Canadians who would benefit from becoming a part of the digital world. This includes seniors, new and low-income Canadians, Indigenous people, and those living in northern or rural areas.

“Our government is ensuring that all Canadians have the skills and know-how to access online resources and participate in the digital economy,” said Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development “The Digital Literacy Exchange Program will help us to make sure that all Canadians are equipped with the right skills to access the wealth of information and opportunities online.”

As part of the announcement, the government is calling for interested non-profit organizations to submit proposals under the program. Those proposals must be in by March 30, 2018. The project’s funding will be made available from 2018-19 to 2021-22, according to the site.

“We want all Canadians to control their own connectivity and take their rightful place in the digital world of today,” said David Lametti, Bains’ Parliamentary Secretary. “Our government is committed to working to spur economic development and growth and improve the lives of Canadians everywhere.”

The training will be delivered at pre-existing facilities such as libraries, refugee housing complexes, senior homes or community centres. Examples of the “fundamental digital literacy training” that may be provided includes the ability to use computer programs like word processors, web browsers, email and other communication tools, as well as the ability to access emerging technologies like cloud computing.

As part of the process, schools and postsecondary institutions are not allowed to apply for funding but are encouraged to partner with a non-profit.

From the allotted $29.5 million of funding, $4.3 will be available in 2018-2019, then $7.3 million per year for the subsequent years.

You can expect organizations like Canada Learning Code, Actua, and other non-profits involved in the CanCode program last year to be vying for some of this new funding to expand their offerings.