The Honourable Daiene Vernile
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
900 Bay St
Hearst Block, 9th Floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 2E1
February 13, 2018
Dear Hon. Minister Vernile:
I’m writing to encourage you to support increased funding for public libraries.
This issue came up a number of times last week during the pre-budget hearings we both attended in Kitchener.
Today, Guelph City Council will review and vote on the business plan for a new City of Guelph main library. The business case for the library is an important reminder of the essential role libraries play in supporting affordable, livable communities.
The Guelph vision for the future of our library highlights the evolving role of libraries in our communities. Libraries serve as inclusive community hubs that connect citizens with information, services and each other. Increasingly, libraries play an essential role in bridging the digital divide, reducing the effects of poverty and providing access to information and digital services. Modern libraries are economic incubators that support innovation, entrepreneurism and community economic development. Libraries welcome new Canadians to our communities, support literacy and ESL services.
Libraries provide cities and towns with economic, social and community benefits.
Yet, for 20 years the provincial government has frozen the budget to support local libraries. This is a short-sighted move by the province with long term consequences. This policy of freezing library funding means libraries have 42% less money today due to inflation and places a further burden on an already stressed municipal property tax base to provide the services citizens need and want.
Minister, municipalities such as Guelph are making important investments in upgrading public libraries—like the very building in which we met last week in Kitchener.
It’s time for the provincial government to support these essential community investments by ending the 20 year budget freeze on funding support for local libraries. I encourage your government to support the Ontario Library Association’s request for a funding increase for public and First Nations libraries from $33 million to $50 million for 2018 with subsequent increases in line with the Consumer Price Index.
Minister, every dollar invested in libraries generates over $6 in local economic impact benefiting the people of Ontario.
It’s time to end the 20 year budget freeze on funding for libraries.
Leader, Green Party of Ontario