Ontario to cut nearly 20 per cent of Toronto Public Library funding

Loss of important $1.4 million in funding will result in service impacts, chief librarian says.

On the heels of John Tory’s statement that the Ontario government has “turned their backs” on Toronto, the Liberals announced yesterday their plan to cut $1.4 million in important funding to the Toronto Public Library. The funding has been part of TPL’s budget for almost 20 years and has been used to support the library’s digital initiatives and online services. TPL’s chief librarian Vicky Bowles has expressed serious concern over the loss.

The province also announced recently a $1 million investment in library funding for remote, rural and Indigenous libraries. “We applaud this much needed investment,” the Library stated in a press release yesterday. “However, the corresponding reduction in funding at Toronto Public Library cannot be absorbed and there will be service impacts.”

NDP leader Andrea Horwath criticized the cuts, reminding the government that the library system is a great equalizer in our society and are key to poverty reduction. The funding being lost has been used to provide internet hotspots to low income residents, enables kids to have greater access to books, and allows new Canadians to take language classes. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon responded by stating her party’s support for libraries has provided over $3.5 billion in 2015-16, and that their support will continue.

Despite the Library’s contention that they desperately need this funding, McMahon stated that the government reviewed the money in question and deemed it “not necessarily effective.”

Photo by City of Toronto on Flickr