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 in increased visibility for our sector and support from both NDP and PC Caucus members. FOPL and OLA representatives formed small teams and attended 21 meetings with various stakeholders including Ministers, MPPs, policy advisors, and ministry staff. I was also able to briefly chat with Minister Lumsden during this event and he made it clear that we must get support from PC Caucus members for our budget asks for us to be successful.  Given that, our next steps will be to meet with all PC Caucus MPPs that we did not meet with during the in-person lobby days. I will be reaching out to library members that fall within the ridings of PC MPPs to reach out to their local MPPs and meet to discuss priorities.

Meetings Attended

Name

Caucus

Role

Riding

Hon. Charmaine Williams

PC

Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity

Brampton Centre

Hon. Michael Tibollo

PC

Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Vaughan-Woodbridge

MPP Marit Stiles

NDP

Leader of the Official Opposition (NDP)

Davenport

MPP Jill Andrew

NDP

NDP Critic for Culture and Heritage

Toronto-St. Paul’s

MPP Terence Kernaghan

NDP

Critic for Economic Development

London North Centre

MPP Mary-Margaret McMahon

OLP

Liberal Critic for Tourism, Culture and Sport

Beaches-East York

MPP Dave Smith

PC

Member, Standing Committee on the Interior

Peterborough – Kawartha

MPP Lisa Gretzky

NDP

Critic, Mental Health and Addictions; Critic, Poverty and Homelessness Reduction

Windsor West

Hon. John Vanthof

NDP

Opposition House Leader

Temiskaming—Cochrane

MPP Logan Kanapathi

PC

Parliamentary Assistant, Children, Community and Social Services

Markham-Thornhill

MPP Peggy Sattler

NDP

Chief Opposition Whip, Critic for Colleges and Universities

London West

MPP Teresa Armstrong

NDP

Critic for Child Care, Critic for Pensions, Vice-Chair Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy

London – Fanshawe

MPP Sol Mamakwa

NDP

Critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, Critic for Northern Development, Deputy Leader for Official Opposition

Kiiwetinoong

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam

NDP

Critic for 2SLGBTQ+ Issues, Critic for Attorney General, Critic for Small Business

Toronto Centre

MPP Stephanie Bowman

OLP

Member of Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

Don Valley West

MPP Andrea Hazell

OLP

Member of Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

Scarborough – Guildwood

MPP Will Bouma

PC

Chair for Standing Committee on Government Issues, Caucus Chair

Brantford-Brant

MPP Laura Smith

PC

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Member, Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Thornhill

Minister Surma

PC

Ministry of Infrastructure

Etobicoke Centre

Connor Scott

 

Policy Advisor, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

 

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport Staff

 

Various staff within the MTCS

 

I want to thank all the FOPL members and board representatives who gave us their time and travelled from near and far to fight for public libraries. A big thank you and well done:

Catherina Moskau

Clarence-Rockland Public Library

FOPL CEO Representative Francophone Caucus

Christine Row

Mississippi Mills Public Library

FOPL Government Relations Working Group

Rebecca Hunt

Temiskaming Shores Public Library

FOPL CEO Representative Northern Caucus

Michael Ciccone

 

London Public Library

FOPL Government Relations Working Group

David Harvie

Formerly Woodstock Public Library

FOPL Former Library Leaders Representative

Paul Ainslie

Toronto Public Library

FOPL Trustee Representative Toronto Public Library

Wayne Greco

Sault St. Marie Public Library

FOPL Trustee Representative Large Urban Caucus

Sonia Bebbington

Ottawa Public Library

FOPL Government Relations Working Group

Margie Singleton

Vaughan Public Libraries

FOPL CEO Representative Large Urban Caucus

Stephanie Clare

Georgian Bay Public Library

FOPL Government Relations Working Group

Sarah Vaisler

Ajax Public Library

FOPL Member

Advocacy continues with deputations to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs and Finance. This committee is comprised of various MPPs and will be making recommendations for budget considerations to the Ministry of Finance. Deputations are taking place across the province over the next couple of months in 16 different locations. We have asked public library CEOs and representatives to present at 14 of the 16 sessions as we’re hoping to get our messages across loud and clear. Sessions start on December 12th so more on this will be provided on the next update!

Looking ahead we are immediately focused on meetings with PC Caucus MPPs so please be on the look out for my email! After that, we’ll turn our attention to Deputations to the Ministry of Finance and submitting a pre-budget submission for our formal provincial asks by the end of January. I will also be at the Rural Ontario Municipal Associations (ROMA) Conference at the end of January and OLA SuperConference after that. It’s going to be a whirlwind!