FOPL and OLA continue to have conversations with Ministry staff and answer any questions they may have about the ODPL and the funding issues with public libraries on reserve, which have also been of great interest. We hope to meet again formally next month to follow up from our conversation in November. We have also continued to monitor developments with Bill 3, Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act, 2022 and have sent a letter to the Toronto and Ottawa municipalities as the province proposes to expand the bill to other regions. These letters, sent as correspondence to the municipal Clerks, will hopefully make it to council agenda for review. I have attached these letters for you to read as well.
The Minister of Finance and The Standing Committee of Economic Affairs and Finance have convened in January to accept deputations. FOPL has rallied a variety of public libraries CEOs across the province to apply for deputations to both. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to speak to the Minister of Finance during his budget consultation session in Brampton on January 11th. I spoke to our provincial priorities, emphasizing the frozen Public Libraries Operating Grant, the serious concern for public libraries on reserves and the province-wide benefits of creating the Ontario Digital Public Library. Kitty Pope from Windsor Public Library and Monika Machacek from Clarington Public Library also gave deputations to Minister Bethlenfalvy as the committee moved across the province, strengthening our message. Deputations for the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs and Finance are coming up and we have heard back from at least two CEOs that they have been accepted for deputations: Brian Harding from Sudbury Public Library and Christina Blazecka from Cochrane Public Library. We wait to hear back regarding applications to speak to the committee in Sault St. Marie, Timmins, Ottawa, Kingston, Barrie and Queen’s Park. Our membership has certainly come together to champion our public libraries these past couple months! We have also submitted our formal 2023 Pre-Budget Consultation document to the Ministry of Finance just two weeks ago (also attached).
FOPL also attended the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto from January 22-24. I was able to engage with over 250 councillors, mayors and CAOs from across the province about a variety of issues. Many of the councillors I spoke to indicated that they were newly appointed to the library board and were interested in learning more about our sector, our priorities, and any foreseeable problems I could share with them. This was a fantastic opportunity to lay the foundation for library champions across the province! Another hot topic was the Public Libraries Operating Grant and why the provincial funding has been frozen for so long. I’m very happy with the discussions at the conference and have a lot of follow up with councillors, board chairs and otherwise interested persons as a result.
Just before the conference, I was contacted by CBC Sudbury for a very brief interview in response to Sudbury Public Library asking for a 7.4% increase to their budget. The interview was featured as part of a larger web story by CBC about library funding and the impact of our provincial grants. FOPL is mentioned in two small snippets of the story and focuses on the frozen PLOG and the lessened impact of those funds due to inflation. You can read the web story here.