Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs – 5th Interim Report on Infrastructure

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has completed its report on the Infrastructure Sector hearings related to COVID-19, which FOPL participated in during the summer.

The Full report is here:

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON INFRASTRUCTURE

Link: https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/committees/finance-economic-affairs/parliament-42/reports/2020–september—28-fifth-interim-report-economic-impact-covid-19-infrastructure-standing-committee-finance-economic-affairs

You will note, quite encouragingly, that the Standing Committee has included a library-specific recommendation that we brought forward – broadband – in its list of final recommendations. Unlike the Culture sector report (where our recommendations were included in the Opposition member recommendations) this reflects the recommendations of the government committee majority. It also appears to be the only recommendation for investment in a specific sector.

While certainly not a guarantee in itself, its another positive sign towards what we’ve been learning over the past weeks and months re: broadband investment.

Here is the recommendation (p. 30):

  1. Leverage Ontario’s broadband action plan funding to ensure that modern broadband connectivity is available in more public library branches in communities across Ontario, most especially rural and northern areas.

Summary Points:

  • This report is an overview of the main issues raised during the Committee’s public hearings.
  • Presentations followed from more than 40 stakeholders, including rural municipalities, builder and contractor associations, companies in the infrastructure sector, policy-focused organizations, professional engineers, green infrastructure and cycling groups, community development networks, library associations, an Indigenous technical institute, grape growers and snowmobile clubs, and concerned individuals.
  • In addition to recommendations for bringing stability to the infrastructure sector and streamlining the project approval process, many presentations underscored that the pandemic crisis represents an opportunity to consider new ways of doing things, such as ensuring greater community participation in infrastructure development and developing new forms of green and active mobility infrastructure.
  • Closing the digital divide and internet infrastructure is needed.