Editorial disclosure: MPP Bill Walker is an advertiser with Niagara Escarpment Views.
I am writing today to clarify recent changes made by our government to library funding.
It is important to note that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is maintaining base funding for libraries at $25 million for 2019/2020.
Our province is faced with the highest sub-national debt on the entire planet at more than $340 billion. When we took office the government was spending $40 million more per day than it was taking in.
Our government is committed to protecting what matters most: our world class health and education systems. As a result, library shared service organizations are being asked to find efficiencies and we are reducing funding to those organizations. Both the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and the Ontario Library Service-North (OLS-N) were asked to work with our government to identify, modernize and keep key programs running.
Instead of working together with us, they decided to immediately cancel the inter-library loan service. SOLS has acknowledged the inter-library loan program was unsustainable and was costing $1.3 million per year to keep running. The service delivered approximately 320,000 items, costing over $4 each, in both directions. Canada Post offers a special rate to libraries of $1.38 (round trip) to send an item through the mail. This represents a reduction in cost of more than 75%.
Minister Tibollo and his staff have met with the chairs of both SOLS and OLS-N, as well as the Ontario Library Association and the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries recently to discuss how to move forward to ensure that the services that are most important to Ontarians continue in a sustainable way. I’m disappointed SOLS chose to cancel the inter-library loan program before consulting with libraries or our government about alternatives. Collaborating on how to move forward would have been preferable than blaming the government in the media.
Bill Walker, MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound