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!