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Established by the President of the Royal Society of Canada in April 2020, the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 was mandated to provide evidence-informed perspectives on major societal challenges in response to and recovery from COVID-19. 

The Task Force established a series of Working Groups to rapidly develop Policy Briefings, with the objective of supporting policy makers with evidence to inform their decisions. 

Full Report

Executive Summary

Overview of Impact of COVID-19 on Language and Literacy in Canada

One of the most significant achievements of a young baby’s life is the emerging ability to understand and use language to communicate. Language is an inherently social phenomenon— its meaning and power stem from how it is used by members of a community to convey thoughts, ideas, feelings, and to identify tangible elements in the environment. Due to the inherently social nature of language, children rely on information provided by parents to learn the words and rules of their native language.

Members of the Working Group

Haykaz Mangardich, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Psychology, The University of British Columbia

Adriel John Orena, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Psychology, The University of British Columbia

Mark Turin, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, The University of British Columbia

Janet F. Werker, FRSC, University Killam Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of British Columbia

Muhammad Abdul-Mageed, Assistant Professor, School of Information, Department of Linguistics, The University of British Columbia

Krista Byers-Heinlein, Professor, Department of Psychology, Concordia University

Xi Chen, Professor, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, Ontario  Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Suzanne Curtin, Professor of Child and Youth Studies and Vice-Provost and Dean Graduate Studies, Brock University

Hélène Deacon, Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University

Alona Fyshe, Departments of Computer Science and Psychology, University of Alberta

Marc F. Joanisse, Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario

Guofang Li, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia

Bonny Norton, FRSC, University Killam Professor and Distinguished University Scholar, Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia. Project Lead, Global Storybooks

Julia Rivard Dexter, Co-Founder and CEO of Eyeread INC., a Canadian Digital Literacy Learning Platform

Daisy Rosenblum, Assistant Professor, Language Documentation, Conservation and Revitalization in the First Nations and Endangered Languages Program, Department of Anthropology, The University of British Columbia

Susan Rvachew, Director and Associate Dean of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University

Jenny Thomson, Reader in Language and Literacy, Director of Research and Innovation in the Health Sciences School at the University of Sheffield

Heidi Tworek, Associate Professor, International History and Public Policy, the University of British Columbia

Henny Yeung, Assistant Professor, Linguistics and Cognitive Science, Simon Fraser University

For further information or for media requests, contact Erika Kujawski at ekujawski@rsc-src.ca. 

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