The short story:
The longer story:
Here are the quotes from the Ontario 2018 Budget that are connected to library themes:
“Supporting Ontario’s Public Libraries
In Ontario, digital resources are becoming increasingly crucial for educational purposes, to access public services, and for participation in the labour market. Public libraries play a central role in providing access to new technology and digital resources in communities.
Digital Public Library
To ensure that everyone can benefit from digital technologies in their lives, Ontario will invest $28 million over three years to create a provincial Digital Public Library that provides access to digital content such as e‐books, music and audiobooks; research databases; special collections; and accessible and alternative format materials across a common web platform. For the first time, equitable digital library services will be available to all Ontarians regardless of where they live in the province — including rural, remote and Indigenous communities. This will support the province’s 300 public libraries, including 46 First Nation public libraries, which serve over 99 per cent of the population.
Building Up Public Libraries
Public libraries are increasingly embracing their role as community hubs, providing access to free information, programs and services across a range of areas such as newcomer settlement, early learning, housing, employment, small business support and public health. Libraries also offer important employment and career training programs to job seekers, helping connect them to the technology resources they need to find and compete for job opportunities. That is why Ontario is increasing the Public Library Operating Grant by $51 million over three years.”
Working in Partnership to Support Indigenous Children and Youth
Indigenous Youth and Community Wellness Secretariat: Delivering Community- and Youth-Driven Solutions
In recent years, several First Nation communities in northern Ontario have suffered a very high number of youth suicides. Concurrently, a large number of Indigenous youth from remote, northern Ontario First Nation communities attending high school in larger urban centres have experienced race‐based violence, and lack culturally appropriate accommodations and supports.
Youth suicides in Indigenous communities, as well as the intergenerational trauma that is the legacy of Canada’s residential school system and other forms of institutionalized racism, has contributed to health and social crises that require a coordinated approach to providing holistic and culturally appropriate solutions.
Ontario established the Indigenous Youth and Wellness Secretariat in July 2017 to work with Indigenous partners to co‐develop and co‐implement a longer-term action plan to assist Indigenous youth and communities. New initiatives to provide enhanced localized supports include:
Enhancing access to resources and supports to empower Indigenous youth.
Increasing inclusionary learning by supporting Indigenous Institutes to expand capacity and
strengthen their role as an important and unique pillar in Ontario’s postsecondary education system. This recognition builds on the $56 million investment over three years in Indigenous learners announced in the 2017 Budget. See Chapter II: Growing the Economy and Creating Good Jobs, section Recognizing Indigenous Institutes for more details.
- Providing $5.5 million in provincial funding in the 2017–18 school year to help Nishnawbe Aski Nation students continue their education in urban centres. Combined with federal funding of $4.7 million annually over the next three years, the provincial investment will ensure resources are available to enable a safe and culturally relevant and appropriate learning environment.
- Expanding counselling and broader mental health supports by providing Pikangikum First Nation with funding to hire an additional 20 mental health workers for children and youth at risk.
Investing more than $70 million over 10 years to support new priority municipal infrastructure projects such as the Stratford Grand Trunk Community Hub and the Peterborough Arena Complex.
Engaging with Indigenous Communities and Organizations
Alongside the federal government, Ontario recognizes the need to engage in a meaningful way with Indigenous communities and organizations on topics related to cannabis legalization. Ontario’s legislative framework includes flexibility to address community‐specific, on‐reserve approaches. This includes the ability to make agreements with First Nation communities related to cannabis regulation, including minimum age requirements, permitted places of use and enforcement. It also enables a First Nation band council to request the delivery of recreational cannabis to a reserve to be prohibited by regulation and authorizes the Minister of Finance to enter into agreements with First Nation communities that are interested in on‐reserve retailing.
Ontario is committed to continuing the dialogue with Indigenous communities and organizations to discuss interests, perspectives, concerns and specific opportunities for collaboration.
Enhancing Government Efforts to Transform Programs
Management of program expenditure will also build upon government action already underway to evaluate current government programs to make them work more efficiently and meet the needs of the people of Ontario. The government will support, leverage and enhance efforts to modernize and transform public services. This means the government will continue to:
- Find savings through program improvements and cost avoidance (i.e., less costly services now, or better outcomes and prevention of downstream costs), while maintaining high quality of services and supports;
- Reduce duplication across service sectors by harmonizing program delivery, reallocating existing resources to more effective programs, and scaling down investments that no longer demonstrate value for money; and
- Establish and assess investment priorities to manage overall sustainability of program spending.
The government is committed to openness and transparency. It is important that the needs of Ontarians and their ideas help identify program options and form the solutions. Program transformation and modernization will be informed by their experience, knowledge and lessons learned. The government will also harness the expertise of thought leaders and experts. Jurisdictions with effective innovation, modernization and expenditure management processes will be consulted.
Industry leaders, academic experts and representatives from the general public will be engaged to help guide program transformation and make recommendations to the government on how to best achieve outcomes and improve user experience while focusing on cost savings or avoidance.
Enhancing Access and Engagement through Digital Learning
Graduates are entering a world that is more globally connected and technologically engaged than ever before. Expanding digital learning opportunities will better prepare students to succeed in a rapidly changing economy by providing them with the knowledge and tools employers are looking for. Improving access to digital learning resources enables more students and educators to build their digital skills and take advantage of high‐quality online courses, regardless of where they attend public school. That is why the Province is improving access to high‐speed Internet at publicly funded schools. Ontario is connecting an additional 250,000 students at approximately 850 schools with high‐speed Internet access by the end of 2018, and is on track to bring high‐speed Internet access to every classroom by 2021. In addition, the Province is building students’ digital skills with investments in new classroom technology. Through the Technology and Learning Fund, students across the province are experiencing a wide range of digital learning opportunities, including robotics and coding activities, assistive technologies and digitally facilitated connections with other students, classrooms, schools and experts, across Canada and the world.
Ontario is creating engaging places to learn for all students through innovative technology and digital learning.
Improving Access to High-Speed Internet
More than 70,500 Ontario students in 181 schools have already benefited from the government’s ongoing investment in secure and accessible broadband Internet. The government is investing in new fibre optic infrastructure to connect schools to an Internet service provider and improving network capacity to handle large amounts of data required to use new technologies in the classroom.
Supporting Development in the Ring of Fire
Ontario, in partnership with Indigenous communities, is working towards sustainable development in the Ring of Fire region located about 540 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. The region represents a significant new mineral resource area in northern Ontario, with world‐class deposits of chromite as well as significant discoveries of nickel, copper, zinc, gold and other minerals.
Ontario has committed up to $1 billion for strategic transportation infrastructure development in the Ring of Fire region. In August 2017, Ontario announced it was working with Webequie, Marten Falls and Nibinamik First Nations to plan and construct a year‐round access road into the proposed mining development site that would also include connections to the communities.
In addition, Ontario is working with and providing financial and other supports to First Nation communities to ensure that they can actively participate in the decision‐making processes to develop the region and fully benefit from potential developments. In October 2017, Ontario committed up to $30 million to the Matawa First Nations Management (MFNM) as part of the federal and provincial governments’ joint broadband investment of up to $69.2 million to install approximately 880 kilometres of new fibre optic cable to five Matawa‐member First Nations.
Investing in Digital Infrastructure
The Province recognizes that broadband and mobile connectivity will continue to be essential to the economic well‐being of Ontarians, enabling meaningful civic engagement, inclusive growth, economic development, and access to government and public services. That is why the government is committed to ensuring people have access to digital services and is building a foundation of digital infrastructure — including accessible and affordable high‐speed broadband networks across Ontario.
Since 2007, the government has committed close to $530 million in broadband infrastructure investments in communities across Ontario, including:
- $90 million as part of the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project, which will expand access to broadband networks by delivering fibre optic coverage to 3.5 million people in over 300 communities — spanning counties and municipalities in southwestern Ontario, as well as Caledon and Niagara;
- $67.5 million in a partnership with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), to support broadband coverage or service expansion projects in the north;
- Up to $30 million to improve access to distance education, skills training and new business opportunities for five Matawa‐member communities in remote northern Ontario; and
- Investing $130 million over five years in two projects across Ontario that will advance the development and commercialization of 5G and next‐generation technologies and networks across Ontario.
To ensure that people of Ontario can fully participate in the 21st century economy and access basic services, the government is investing an additional $500 million over three years to expand broadband connectivity in rural and northern communities. This will include an investment of up to $71 million towards improving cellular coverage in eastern Ontario, and up to $20 million to Telesat to support a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation project, which will help enable access to secure broadband services in rural and remote Ontario. These investments will also help to increase average speeds in underserved and unserved communities.
See the Enhancing Access and Engagement through Digital Learning section earlier in this chapter for more information on how broadband investments are helping students in schools across the province.
Good Jobs and Growth Plan: $0.9 billion over three years to strengthen economic foundations and support the development of local talent and entrepreneurs and the growth of Ontario businesses, and investments in postsecondary institutions, a modernized apprenticeship system and a flexible employment and training system, as well as expand broadband connectivity, particularly in rural and northern areas of the province.
Investing in Ontario’s Communities: $0.5 billion, over three years, for investments in Ontario’s communities including supporting the sustainability of francophone communities across the province, strengthening libraries, promoting cultural engagement and inclusion, and supporting socio‐economic infrastructure projects and large‐scale, transformation investment opportunities in northern Ontario.
Building Tomorrow’s Infrastructure
The government is building modern, efficient infrastructure that benefits the economy, while creating jobs and enhancing quality of life. The Province is investing about $230 billion over 14 years starting in 2014–15 for priority projects such as hospitals, schools, transit, bridges and roads, and broadband in rural and remote communities. The next 10 years of investments are expected to support about 140,000 jobs, on average, per year. This will include more than $106 billion for new and upgraded transit and transportation infrastructure to drive economic growth.
Supporting Priority Populations
The government is establishing a new Local Service Priority Fund, which will strengthen mental health supports, including for LGBTQI2S, racialized, francophone, newcomer and rural youth who are underserved.
The Province will also improve access to relevant, high‐quality services for all people in Ontario, including Indigenous peoples, racialized and refugee populations, LGBTQI2S people and those who have experienced gender‐based violence, and assist people who need immediate hospital care for mental illness or addictions in getting the help they need.
It is estimated that every public dollar invested in child care creates a $2.47 benefit to the Ontario economy due to increases in the working hours and wages of women.
Building a Barrier-Free Ontario
Ontario continues to be a leader in accessibility to ensure that people of all abilities can move through life with confidence and independence. With passage of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA), the government has established accessibility standards in five key areas of daily living: customer service, information and communications, employment, transportation, and the design of public spaces. New standards for the health care and education sectors are also under development. Moreover, the government recently hosted a stakeholder forum to begin the conversation towards a more accessible built environment in communities.
The implementation of the AODA has resulted in significant progress towards making Ontario a barrier‐free province by 2025.
City of Stratford
Stratford has taken major strides in integrating accessibility within its community, while maintaining its historical design. Recent changes include making store entryways the same grade as sidewalks and implementing measures to improve accessibility at the market square. Additionally, an accessible walking park and picnic area have been added to the county archives building, which has also been retrofitted to include accessible research and meeting rooms.
Saving Students Money through Open Textbooks
Ontario is also supporting the creation and development of free online textbooks and educational resources for students to make college and university more affordable and accessible. This initiative allows students and faculty to browse, view and download free textbooks for use in their courses.
The $1 million Ontario Open Textbooks Initiative, launched in June 2017 in partnership with eCampus Ontario, focuses on Ontario‐specific content in areas where the most significant impact and cost savings for students can be realized, including high‐enrolment first‐year courses, French language content, content for Indigenous studies, trades and technical skills content, and content for new Canadians.
The current library collection has amassed over 230 textbooks, and anyone from across the province can view and download the open materials for free (openlibrary.ecampusontario.ca). The Open Textbook Library addresses two key barriers to education — access and affordability — and since the library’s soft launch in May, more than 5,270 learners have saved over $520,000.
Recognizing Indigenous Institutes
Ontario recognizes the importance of bridging the post-secondary attainment gap for Indigenous peoples, as well as improving Indigenous access to, and success in, the post-secondary education sector. Ontario’s nine Indigenous Institutes are essential to this effort, offering pathways for over 1,000 Indigenous and non‐Indigenous learners to earn a diploma, certificate or degree that reflects Indigenous knowledge, cultures and languages.
The Indigenous Institutes Act, 2017, was passed to support a new pathway for Indigenous students to earn a diploma, certificate or degree. The legislation recognizes that Indigenous Institutes play a unique role in Ontario’s postsecondary education system by providing accessible education and training to Indigenous students in culturally responsive learning environments. The legislation also supports Indigenous Institutes as a complementary pillar to Ontario’s postsecondary education system — alongside the province’s 45 publicly funded colleges and universities.
Recognizing Indigenous Institutes builds on the Province’s historic $56 million investment in Indigenous learners, announced in the 2017 Budget, as an important part of a thriving postsecondary system and a key step towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Ontario.