NDP Deputy Leader, John Vanthof is condemning the Ford Conservatives after cutting funding for the Ontario Library Service-North by 50 per cent:
The organization is one of two agencies which support the development of public libraries across Ontario.
"In the North there are approximately 121 public libraries representing cities, towns, townships, local service boards, First Nation communities, and fly-in communities over a vast geographic area. We endeavour to assist and provide services to encourage library development in some of Northern Ontario's most remote locations," says the group's website.
More than 3/4 of the urban population lives in five major cities of North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, and Sudbury.
“After cutting education, health care and the public services Northern families depend on, Doug Ford is going after our books, our community gathering and local program spaces — our libraries," says Vanthof.
"Doug Ford’s cut to our public libraries will force libraries to find the money elsewhere, to make cuts and to do with less. He’ll make it harder for northerners to get the books they’re looking for, and for libraries to host the programming and resources Northerners deserve. He’s making it harder for libraries to help students who need a place to study, learn and access resources — including technology — they don’t have at home. And Doug Ford is also putting northern library jobs at risk.
"By eliminating half the funding for Ontario Library Service-North, Doug Ford is cutting a vital service for our libraries to work together as one unit serving northern Ontarians."
Vanthof charges that Doug Ford doesn’t care about how his cuts affect northern communities.
"He is obsessed with downtown Toronto, and, as city councillor, vowed to close the smallest library in his own ward 'in a heartbeat.'”
But Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli called the accusation "more fearmongering" by the NDP.
“Let us be perfectly clear -- our government is maintaining base funding for our libraries across the province. Ontario Library Service – North and Southern Ontario Library Service are arm’s length agencies that have no involvement in the day-to-day operations of Ontario’s public libraries.
“Libraries are important to local and remote communities, and they provide valuable opportunities to learn and share in Ontario’s diverse culture.
“This government will continue to maintain strong partnerships with municipal and Indigenous libraries and assist them in providing quality public services for everyone, while ensuring value for money and respect for taxpayer dollars.”
The Ontario Library Service-North overs an area of 803,379 km2, or 88 per cent of Ontario’s total land mass.