Canadians’ Science Literacy Ranks 1st Among 35 Countries

A new expert panel report, Science Culture: Where Canada Stands, released last week by the Council of Canadian Academies, helps to paint the clearest picture of Canada’s science culture and science culture support system in 25 years.

The report found that 42 per cent of Canadians have a basic level of scientific literacy necessary to understand media reports about science, putting Canada first among 35 countries with similar available data.

Also notable, Canadians have some of the lowest levels of reservation towards science, ranking 1st out of 17 countries.

While Canada ranked favorably across many categories, our performance on indicators of science and technology skills development is variable compared with other OECD countries.

Canada ranks first among OECD countries in overall post-secondary educational attainment, but only 20% of first university degrees are in the sciences and engineering.

Immigration also plays an important role in supplying S&T skills: 51% of those who hold degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics are immigrants.

The expert panel who conducted the assessment found Canadians excel in public science knowledge, attitudes, and engagement; however they also determined there is room for improvement in some areas, including skills development.

The Expert Panel based their findings from a review of relevant literature, a new public survey of 2,000 Canadians. The report does not provide policy recommendations but rather provides evidence and insights for policy-makers and others looking to strengthen science culture, and for Canadians to better understand what science culture is, and what it means for our country.

Check out the panel’s key findings online. The Panel’s report also contains a review of the network of organizations, programs, and initiatives that support the development of science culture in Canada, and highlights promising strategies that can be used to strengthen science culture in the future.