Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS)

Overview of Literacy and Basic Skills

The Ontario Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) program helps adults in Ontario to develop and apply communication, numeracy, interpersonal and digital skills to achieve their goals. The LBS program serves learners who have goals to successfully transition to employment, postsecondary, apprenticeship, secondary school, and increased independence. The program includes learners who may have a range of barriers to learning.

The Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF) is the cornerstone of Employment Ontario’s LBS Program, helping adults to achieve their goals of further education, work, and independence. The OALCF is a competency-based framework that supports the development of adult literacy programming delivered through the Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) Program.

Through the LBS Program, individuals access five services that contribute to the successful completion of a learner plan. Service providers may focus on preparing learners for different goal paths but each learner, regardless of the focus of the service provider’s programming, receives the same five services:

  • Information and Referral
  • Assessment
  • Learner Plan Development
  • Training
  • Follow-up

Who Can Participate?

The LBS Program is available to Ontario residents who are out of school and communicate in English or French. Special emphasis is placed on serving individuals who are receiving social assistance through Ontario Works. Services are free, and are offered on-site at approximately 340 locations across the province, in directed and self-directed format, and online through e-Channel service delivery.

The Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) program serves adult learners:

  • who are Ontario residents;
  • whose literacy and basic skills are assessed at intake as being less than the end of Level 3 of the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) or the OALCF;
  • who are at least 19 years old.  On an exception only basis, LBS service providers may serve young adults between ages 16 to 18 who demonstrate the maturity to benefit from adult education. However, returning to the regular school system should be the priority for these learners; and
  • who are proficient enough in speaking and listening to benefit fully from the language of LBS instruction (English or French). This eligibility requirement does not apply to Deaf learners.

To ensure that the literacy needs of learners from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds are addressed, LBS services support programming for Deaf, Anglophone, Francophone and Aboriginal learners.

Literacy Service Planning and Coordination Process

Regional networks support all stream and sector LBS service providers by facilitating the literacy services planning and coordination process in each community. The process involves all LBS service providers and, where possible, other community services. Its purpose is to facilitate effective and efficient delivery of the LBS Program within a broader system of education, training and labour market attachment services.

Literacy Services Planning helps to ensure that there is no duplication or gaps in service within the local area. The principal product of the local planning and co-ordination process is the Literacy Services Plan.


e-Channel literacy is a web-based way to deliver LBS training that improves access for Ontarians who choose or are in need of independent distance learning. In particular, e-Channel provides better access for persons with disabilities and those who live in rural and remote communities. e-Channel services are currently available for learners in all four cultural streams: Aboriginal, Francophone, Deaf and Anglophone. e-Channel services are also available for learners preparing for apprenticeship and postsecondary education.

e-Channel literacy provides self-directed and supported learning for those who are unemployed or under-employed but have responsibilities which restrict them from fully participating in other literacy programs. It can be accessed by employees in the workplace wishing to increase their literacy skills or by learners already being served by face-to-face training who wish to supplement their learning online.

As an alternate mode of service delivery, e-Channel can be accessed by anyone who meets the eligibility requirements of the LBS Program. However, some computer skills are required to benefit from e-Channel delivery.

The current e-Channel network consists of the following delivery organizations: