NEWS ALERT: Increased Internet Connectivity Grant!

On February 6, 2024 I joined Minister Lumsden, Ministry officials, surrounding library CEOs and the lovely staff at the Gravenhurst Public Library as Minister Lumsden announced a $122,000 increase to the existing Internet Connectivity Grant! This new investment of funds will enable up to 155 of Ontario’s more rural, northern and First Nations Public Libraries to be fully reimbursed for their connectivity costs under the Internet Connectivity Grant.   This increase will provide the funding certainty these libraries need to maintain the crucial broadband lifeline for their communities. (from left: Mellissa D’Onofrio Jones, CEO, Ontario Library Service – Minister Neil Lumsden, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport – Julia Reinhart, CEO, Gravenhurst Public Library – Heidi Lorenz, Mayor, Gravenhurst – Dina Stevens, Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries – Minister Graydon Smith, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, MPP Parry Sound-Muskoka – Michelle Arbuckle, Executive Director, Ontario Library Association) This exciting announcement is hopefully just the first of more to come! Thank you to all of you for your collective efforts to date in meeting with your local MPPs, letters to the MTCS, deputations to the Standing Committee of Finance and in the myriad of ways that you advocate for your public library and the interest of all libraries across the province. Let’s keep the momentum going! We’re still going strong here at FOPL and I will be meeting with Minister Lumsden in the next month or so to talk about our provincial asks. Thank you again for all your support. You can read the full announcement here.Dina Stevens, Executive DirectorFederation of Ontario Public...

December / January 2024

Library CEOs and representatives have been making deputations to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs since December 12, 2023.  Deputations are still ongoing, and the committee seems invested in hearing how the Ontario Digital Public Library and enhanced provincial funding will impact local public libraries and their communities. Thank you to everyone who applied to make a deputation! There have been nine presentations made to the Standing Committee to date with more coming in the next few weeks. If you’re interested in learning more about the deputations made to the Standing Committee, you can read the transcripts for each of the deputation dates online and see some of the fantastic presentations made by our colleagues. I also had the opportunity to make a presentation to the Minister of Finance on January 11th .  With my brief 3-minute timeslot, I focused Minister Bethanfalvy’s and other attending MPPs attention on the need for the province to fund the Ontario Digital Public Library. The official pre-budget submission to the Ministry of Finance was submitted on Friday of last week and forwarded to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. This pre-budget submission is the official request for provincial funds and culminates the various deputations we have been engaged in these past weeks.  I have attached a copy of the submission to this email, please feel free to distribute this document to your boards and council members to show them that we are actively engaged in advocating for our libraries. At the same time, various library CEOs, library board members and FOPL board members have been meeting with their local PC Caucus MPPs. Thank you to everyone...

October / November 2023

FOPL and OLA met with Minister Lumsden (Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport) immediately following the Ontario Public Library Week celebrations in Hamilton, ON. Margie Singleton, CEO of Vaughan Public Libraries and FOPL Interim Vice-Chair,  and I sat down with Minister Lumsden together with our OLA partners and Hamilton CEO Paul Takala to talk in depth about public libraries and our three provincial budget asks. The conversation focused on the Ontario Digital Public Library (ODPL), increasing the Public Libraries Operating Grant (PLOG) and increasing the First Nations Salary Supplement. Instead of talking about the numbers, we were able to give the Minister real stories of what the ODPL would mean to library users across the province. We explained that Libraries on Reserves are having to close their doors due to a lack of staff and the staff they do have are volunteering much of their time and working for a wage below the provincial standard for minimum wage. We also explained that our library budgets are stretched to the breaking point; municipalities can no longer afford to provide budget increases as libraries accommodate and respond to an influx of issues from safety and security due to the mental health and addictions crisis to supporting vulnerable populations due to the housing crisis. It was a fantastic meeting and Minister Lumsden was not only receptive and conversational but well briefed on our priorities and asked some insightful questions. We could not have asked for a better meeting.We then turned our attention and efforts towards our two in-person lobbying days at Queen’s Park. It was a hugely successful effort that ultimately resulted...

September 2023

FOPL and OLA have created a new government relations priorities document to guide our advocacy work throughout the fall and winter. While this document may look familiar, there are two main changes to note; Our ask regarding the Provincial Libraries Operating Grant has changed. We are now asking for an increase to the PLOG of an additional $25 million annually on top of the existing $21 million grant. The additional $25 million would restore the PLOG to a present-day value, addressing the impact inflation, rising costs of living and other pressures accumulated over more than 25 years. We have framed this new ask to address shared critical areas of both the library community’s and provinces priorities. More information and discussion will be provided during this month’s Caucus meetings. Language pertaining to the Ontario Digital Public Library ask has changed. We are now asking for a projected cost of $10 – $20 million to demonstrate various levels of investment. An ODPL Briefing Note has been prepared by the FOPL board, incorporating feedback from our members and various caucus meetings earlier this year, to provide context and accompany our Government Relations priorities document. More information about the ODPL Briefing Note and discussion will be provided during this month’s Caucus meetings. FOPL will be attending two in-person lobbying days at Queen’s Park on November 14 and 15. We will be joined by our partners at the Ontario Library Association as we aim to have 24-26 meetings over two days with a variety of sector stakeholders including Ministers, MPPs and Ministry officials. We will be bringing our new Government Relations Priorities document to...

Summer 2023

FOPL attended the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) Conference earlier this summer and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conferences just last week to continue our campaign to reach out and spread awareness among our municipal partners. We spoke to hundreds of delegates at each, highlighting the importance of public libraries and discussing some of the larger issues our libraries are currently dealing with. A big thank you to Niagara Public Library and London Public Library for helping us out at the booth and advocating with us! We have booked two lobbying days at Queens Park on November 14th and 15th. This is our first opportunity post-pandemic to lobby at Queens Park in person and we are very excited to engage with MPPs and other stakeholders about our government relations priorities. More information on this to...

April & May 2023

FOPL and OLA met with Amanda Pape, liaison officer for the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs, to communicate our provincial budget ask for Public Libraries on Reserve. We were able to connect about the issues affecting these libraries and the immediate measures needed to stabilize them. Dr. Sabrina Redwing Saunders, CEO of Blue Mountains Public Library, joined us for this meeting and shared her experience working in public libraries on reserve. We headed over to Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) Conference from May 8 to 11th in Parry Sound. FOPL had a tradeshow booth and as this was a “smaller” conference ( we spoke to over 250+ delegates!), we were able to have more in depth conversations about the libraries in their communities, some issues they are concerned about, and about our municipal engagement campaigns. We continue to promote the Value of Public Libraries and discuss the Importance of Keeping Public Library Boards Independent. We will be going to the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) Conference in a few days so if you’re in or around Niagara Falls from June 11 to 14th, stop by and say hello! FOPL attended the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention Community of Practice event on Safety in Public Libraries. There was a fantastic panel presentation by CULC’s Safety and Security Working Group. A recording of the presentation has been made available by CMNCP and has given us permission to share with our members. A reminder that the CFLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee provides an Intellectual Freedom Toolkit for Canadian Libraries. The CFLA Intellectual Freedom Toolkit is an assemblage...