Stakeholder consultations with the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport were concluded in late March. We will be staying in touch with Ministry staff and offering any follow-up they may require. The MTCS has expressed an interest in “modernizing” the library sector’s funding contribution and we are hopeful that we will see some movement on our provincial priorities.
The 2023 Provincial Budget was released on March 23rd. It came as no surprise that there was no mention of an increase or additional commitment to public libraries. Despite our fantastic media attention and recent consults with the MTCS the timing was very tight for the 2023 budget and we knew we were already looking ahead to 2024. On the whole lots of sectors and issues that are typically covered have no mention. The government has gone for a laser focus on a few key areas (key economic sectors, workforce development inc. health, etc.) and modest spending increases (scroll down for the budget press release for links). Health and education in particular are below inflation and growth needs. We have reached out to the MTCS to confirm that library sector funding will remain stable.
FOPL and OLA also had the opportunity to meet with Connor Scott, MPP Liaison and Policy Advisor to Minister Neil Lumsden. As there was much buzz at the MTCS after our flurry of media attention and Mr. Scott wished to be briefed on the library portfolio. This was a great connection for us and shows us that there is definitely talk about us at the ministry.
As you may have heard, FOPL was all over the news earlier in March. An article by the Canadian Press was featured in 56 news outlets on March 14th which led to subsequent media interviews and spotlights. Some of the articles and interviews can be seen here. FOPL board members Vickery Bowles, City Librarian of Toronto Public Library, Sabrina Saunders, CEO of Blue Mountains Public Library and Mary Chevreau, CEO of Kitchener Public Library were also featured on The View, doing a fantastic job discussing representing our sector.
In May, FOPL will be heading to the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) Conference in Parry Sound. We’ll be there May 8th to 10th chatting up councillors, CAOs and anyone else who loves to talk libraries! Stop by if you’re in the area.