Examples of Health Literacy in Practice


Health literacy is an essential life skill. Each day Canadians are asked to make health-related decisions that call for the application of health literacy skills. For example, a mother may need to decide whether to take her son to the doctor for treatment of an injury. A daughter may need to assist her senior parent to take the correct amount of prescribed medication. Yet the majority of the adult Canadianpopulation is lacking the health literacy skills needed to promote, maintain and improve their health and the health of their families. More than 60% of adult Canadians over the age of 18 years, including 88% of seniors, are affected by low levels of health literacy and this impacts their ability to make informed health decisions. In 2011, the Public Health Agency of Canada (Agency) worked with the University of British Columbia Centre for Health Promotion Research to identify examples of noteworthy health literacy initiatives in Canada. Peer nominated examples were collected, covering established target populations, settings,and health topics. In 2014, the Agency worked with Canadian Public Health Association to identify a subset of the examples for inclusion in the Examples of Health Literacy in Practice resource for web-based distribution. The Examples of Health Literacy in Practice resource is intended to enhance health literacy awareness. This concise, user-friendly resource can serve as a guide forhealth literacy practitioners or policy makers who wish to develop and implement health literacy initiatives. Together, these examples offer a brief snapshot of the unique and growing field of health literacy in Canada. 


  • Summary
  • British Columbia - Health Literacy in Communities Prototype Collaborative 
  • Manitoba - It's Safe to Ask
  • Northeastern New Brunswick - Health Capsules Initiative
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - Peer Navigation for Women's Cancers Project
  • Nunavut - Health Careers Camps and Workshops
  • Ontario - Healthy Smiles Program in Brant County
  • Saskatchewan - Aboriginal Grandmothers Caring for Grandchildren Support Network Program
  • Yukon - Champagne Aishihik First Nations Diabetes Initiative
  • Reflections
  • References
Contact Person/Organization: 

Canadian Public Health Association

Type of Tool:

Publication Date: 

Public Health: a Return on Investment

Session 5 – Health Literacy – PIAAC Conference 2014