November 2022

Earlier this month, FOPL and OLA sent a joint letter in response to Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act to the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy. Simply put, the government aims to reduce housing costs by reducing fees and charges. This includes development charges, community benefit charges and parkland dedication fees. The goal of the letter was to highlight the importance of development charges to public library capital needs as the bill proposes to make changes to the Development Charges Act, among others. Myself and OLA met with Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport Assistant Deputy Minister Katherine Kelly Gatten. ADM Kelly Gatten was joined by Lorraine Dooley, Director, Culture Policy and Deborah Cope, Manager, Culture Policy Unit. We were able to have an engaged conversation with all three ministry representatives. All three showed a keen interest in both the Ontario Digital Public Library initiative and providing immediate aid for the Public Libraries on Reserve. ADM Kelly Gatten said that there is a real interest in public libraries right now and the ministry is making these items a priority. We will be following up with Lorraine Dooley and Deborah Cope in December and with ADM Kelly Gatten in the new year to discuss a plan of action. Good news all...

October 2022

The province posted its proposed regulations under the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act for consultation, with comments due by October 13th. FOPL and OLA created a brief joint response to this regularly consultation. Of particular interest is some further clarification around the authority to hire or dismiss heads of municipal divisions. The Act references that statutory positions are excluded. While it does not reference the Public Libraries Act by name, the Act includes broader language that encompasses any such Acts/positions not specifically identified. Our brief focused on the PLA and that public library CEOs are clearly captured within the list of statutory positions and the risk of municipal governments not understanding this statutory relationship. The brief has been included for your review. I attended the Ontario Public Library Week event hosted by OLA on October 21st. The event was held at a new library in Hamilton, in Minister Neil Lumsden’s riding. It was a fantastic networking opportunity and an excellent, low-pressure environment to meet and begin a relationship with the Minister. Myself, OLA and OLS were in attendance as well as one of FOPL’s board members, Feather Maracle, who did a wonderful job representing the interests of First Nations libraries. We are hoping to sit down with Minister Lumsden in the coming months to discuss our priorities and...

September 2022

Last month FOPL and OLA met with Hannah Andersen, Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. We discussed FOPL and OLA’s main priorities, keeping with what we submitted for the 2022 provincial budget requests. Hannah was very responsive, and we discussed the Ontario Digital Public Library and the need for sustainable funding for public libraries on reserve at length. In October, FOPL and OLA will be requesting meetings with various members of the elected PC Caucus. We are hoping to build support for our requests within the party. FOPL continues to monitor the implications of the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act for libraries and their boards. The province has posted its proposed regulations under the Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act for consultation, with comments due by October 13th. FOPL will be submitting a brief, joint response with OLA to the regulatory consultation at the advice of Counsel Public Affairs. I will have more information with my next update email. Keep in mind that this Act is limited to Toronto and Ottawa at this time. I have attached two advocacy postcards; Keeping Public Libraries Independent and The Value of Public Libraries. Please feel free to use these as we near the municipal elections and afterwards as you orient your new boards and meet with councils. If you would like a set of postcards to hand out to your new boards, we have a limited supply of surplus from our conferences. Please send me an email with the general number of members on your board and FOPL will be happy to send you some (while supplies...

August 2022

FOPL attended the AMO Conference in Ottawa as a tradeshow exhibitor. We were able to speak with over 260 councillors, mayors, and Chief Administrative Officers. Our main messages here, like at AMCTO earlier in the summer, were to promote the importance of keeping public library boards independent and share the value impact of public libraries within their communities. We found that attendees were interested and invested in their public libraries and wanted to learn more about our sector’s priorities. Thank you to Ottawa Public Library for providing extra support and technology. Our Marketing and Communications Working Group created a video that included submissions from our various members to showcase that various ways our libraries contribute to their communities across the province. That video can be viewed and downloaded for your own promotional used here, on our website. We will be continuing our municipal level advocacy by looking for opportunities at the ROMA and FOMON Conferences in the upcoming winter and spring. Provincial level advocacy continues. FOPL, OLA and Counsel Public Affairs have been working on a Government Relations Action Plan to guide our efforts for the new few years. This plan, made with recommendations from Counsel Public Affairs and input from OLA and FOPL, reflects the re-election of Premier Ford’s PC Party government to a second majority mandate. It recognizes that the Conservatives were the only party not to commit to any of FOPL and OLA’s recommendations for the public library sector and therefore balances the re-elected governments priorities alongside our own. We will be sharing with our members once our plan has been finalized. We have also been...

Post-Election Advocacy and AMCTO Conference

Premier Ford and the new Executive Council will be sworn in this Friday at 10am. For those interested to watch, the entire thing will be live streamed from the Premier’s official YouTube channel. After the new cabinet is revealed, FOPL will move ahead with sending congratulatory letters to the new (or returning) Ministers of Infrastructure, Heritage Sport Tourism and Culture Industries, and Education. We will work to engage the new Ministers and meet with them in the coming months. Advocacy at the local level should also continue. Send a letter of congratulations to your new or re-elected MPP, a template is attached. Now is the time to connect again to offer your best wishes as they begin their mandate, and to invite them to visit their local libraries to learn more about your important impact on the community and the critical role of the provincial government in supporting local libraries. If your library is in a riding with multiple library systems, connect with your neighbours to send a joint letter. You can refer to our priorities in our Pre-Budget Submission. Last week, FOPL attended the AMCTO Conference in Niagara Falls. We had the opportunity to speak with 155 municipal representatives about the importance of keeping our public libraries independent and the value impact we have on our communities. FOPL contracted a tradeshow booth and received staffing support from Niagara Falls Public Library to help make this event a...

Post-Election Engagement and Advocacy

Thank you to everyone who engaged with candidates during this year’s provincial election – whether in person, virtually, by email, on social media or with candidates at your door. Since last fall, FOPL and OLA staff and members have been diligently engaging with every political party and with local candidates and MPPs seeking re-election to share and amplify our joint library asks. As we welcome new and re-elected MPPs and cabinet members, the work of advocating for libraries continues. FOPL and OLA’s next steps will be to build relationships with the incoming Ministers. We expect that the government’s new cabinet will be sworn in over the coming weeks. We will be connecting directly with the new Minister of Education, Minister of Heritage Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, and Minister of Infrastructure – among others – to coordinate a meeting with their office to continue the important dialogue about the impact of public and school libraries and the ways that our provincial government can best support them and the people and communities they serve. There are next steps for you as well! Send a letter of congratulations in the next 60 days to your new or re-elected MPP. You may have met your MPP in the past or engaged with them as a candidate during the campaign. Now is the time to connect again to offer your best wishes as they begin their mandate, and to invite them to visit their local libraries to learn more about your important impact on the community and the critical role of the provincial government in supporting local libraries. If your library is in a riding with multiple library...