Improve Canadians’ health by investing in literacy

Frontier College hosts National Forum examining the vital role literacy has in good health and well-being

Winnipeg, May 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On May 17, Frontier College—Canada’s original literacy organization—hosts the National Forum on Literacy and Health. The panel of experts from the fields of health and education will discuss how increased literacy has a direct effect on accessing, understanding, and managing health information for people across Canada. The forum will be held in Winnipeg and is sponsored by Great-West Life, London Life, and Canada Life, who have supported Frontier College’s literacy programs since 1995 and is the founding sponsor of the National Forum.

For many people, low literacy can act as a barrier to good health and well-being. The stigma surrounding low literacy, and medical systems and practices that assume strong literacy skills, can seriously impact a person’s ability to find and use the health services and products they need. In some situations, low literacy can be a life-or-death matter. Research by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that, among other factors, literacy is a determinant of health, and that people with low literacy levels are much more likely to experience poor health. (Click here for research)

A recent Environics survey looking at attitudes about literacy revealed 90 per cent of Canadians agree that strong literacy skills are essential to attaining a high quality of life. However, fewer people surveyed (40 per cent) made the connection that poor literacy skills have an adverse effect on people’s physical health.

“At Frontier College, we see first-hand that strengthening people’s literacy skills is an effective, low-cost way to improve health and well-being for both individuals and communities,” says Stephen Faul, President and CEO, Frontier College. “We are hosting the forum to educate and demonstrate how increased literacy can help a person’s self-care and that of their families, which has significant impact on the health of our country.”

“Literacy is an essential skill for lifelong workplace, family and community health and happiness,” says Stefan Kristjanson, President and Chief Operating Officer, Canada, Great-West Life. “We believe people who develop their literacy skills are equipping themselves to become more resilient in the face of challenges and more productive members of their communities, and we’re pleased to support Frontier College as they work to improve the well-being of Canadians by building a culture of improved literacy.”

The forum is free to attend. Simultaneous conferences will be held in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Toronto, and Halifax. It will be live streamed in its entirety via

Questions for the panel are welcome via email and on twitter @frontiercollege.

Date and Time:              
Thursday, May 17, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. CDT (Registration opens at 11:00 a.m.)

Radisson Hotel Downtown Winnipeg, 288 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

Zahra Al Moussa       
Arabic teacher and journalist

Stephen Faul
President & CEO, Frontier College

Alika Lafontaine
Medical Lead, Aboriginal Health Program (North Zone), Alberta Health Services

André Picard
Health Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Denise Widmeyer
Leader, Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety

Moderated by Dave Angus, VP, Chamber Relations at Johnston Group


About Frontier College

Frontier College is a national charitable literacy organization, established in 1899 on the belief that literacy is a right. We work collaboratively with community-based agencies across Canada to provide targeted, innovative literacy and numeracy support for the most vulnerable Canadians. In 2017, 31,000 children, youth, and adults participated in our free programs in more than 150 communities throughout the country. For more information about Frontier College, visit and follow Frontier College on twitter: @frontiercollege

About Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life

Together, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life help to build a brighter future for communities by providing financial support focused on education, health and wellness, arts, social services and community development. As an Imagine Caring Company, supporting the principles of corporate citizenship and benchmarks for community investment established by Imagine Canada, they contribute at least one per cent of average pre-tax profits in support of the communities where their employees live and work. In 2017, the companies contributed $13.5 million to communities. To learn more visit


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