In the early 1990's, this recognition of a role for municipal government in the field of literacy was both innovative and bold. By supporting literacy initiatives within its workforce and in the community at large, the City of Ottawa would directly impact the economic well-being and social fabric of its citizens.
While the model described above was never fully implemented following the approval of the Task Force Report by Ottawa City Council, the City took action to validate its evolving role in literacy. The original proposals were perceived by some to be flawed and difficult to implement given the call for new human and financial resources in a time of fiscal restraint. As well, the proposed structure had been made redundant since the role of literacy advocate and coordinating services was now established in the region.
Acting on information gathered at briefings on community literacy issues, the next mayor continued to champion the cause of literacy within municipal government by continuing to support a union-based literacy program within its Department of Engineering and Works. She was also committed to linking the City's efforts to those of the Ottawa Carleton Coalition for Literacy and the proposed community-based Foundation for Literacy. This new approach proved to be acceptable to the literacy stakeholders and allowed the various agencies and levels of government to proceed with support to the issue of literacy in a variety of ways.
The strengths of the Mayor's Task Force on Literacy were demonstrated in the political will to make it happen, the incredible energy and commitment to the process of the community players involved, the huge response from members of the public to the public hearings process and the concept of promoting front-end partnerships with other agencies and levels of government. The process was considered worthwhile as it served to assist in the redefinition of literacy objectives for the community, supportive of achievable future goals for the literacy movement in the Ottawa-Carleton region.
Municipal governments will not have to travel this path alone. Potential partners, including other levels of government across Canada, have already recognized the significance of a literate community to their constituents and clients and are moving forward with similar goals for the future.
| Our Legacy for the Millennium Project
Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA)
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