author: taylor balfour | news writer
$4.8 million dollars cut from budget
It has not been a secret that the recently released Saskatchewan budget has been the talk of the town. While the cuts to the University of Regina and the elimination of the Saskatchewan Transit Company [STC] have been the peak of popularity, other even more drastic cuts have been overshadowed.
Regina Public Libraries had $1.3 million dollars cut from their operating grant, and seven out of the eight regional library systems are to have 58 per cent of the funding cut off, equaling about $3.5 million.
However, the Saskatchewan Library Association reported in a press release after the budget announcement that they are “also concerned with a 5 per cent reduction in provincial operating grants to universities, technical institutes and regional colleges,” and that “this action will potentially affect the operations of post-secondary libraries.”
They claim in the letter that “total cuts to municipal and regional library systems will be $4.8 million.”
The backlash faced by this decision has been extremely vocal. A public group on Facebook entitled “Support Saskatchewan’s Public Libraries” has over 5,300 members. The group is described as “a place to share ideas and get organized.”
The group is used to share news stories of protests, as well as to provide facts and statistics to newcomers who are not fully aware of the situation.
The Saskatchewan Education Minister, Don Morgan, has attempted to defend the province’s decision by claiming that library usage has fallen drastically in recent years, and that the cuts were justified due to that. However, the Saskatoon Public Libraries [SPL] released a statement reporting their stats from 2016, and the details counteract such a claim.
In their press release, SPL reported that there has been a 31 per cent increase in attendance for programs held by public libraries, as well as a 35 per cent increase in active members in the community and a 15 per cent increase of “circulation of digital materials.”
Province wide, there has been a loud and clear opposition. In Moose Jaw, a press release detailing laid off librarians reported that they were to speak out.
“Six library workers who have received pink slips from the Palliser Regional Library will be attending the question period today at the Legislative Assembly to draw attention to the impacts the government’s cuts to libraries will have on programming, staffing levels, and the community.”
The statement, sent on April 3, claims, “They will be available for a media scrum after the question period in the rotunda of the Legislature. They will be accompanied by representatives of their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees.”
The Facebook group, which continues to grow rapidly everyday, continues to assure people that speaking out is the best way to make sure the public’s voices are heard.
“If we stand up, we can make a difference!”
In the recent weeks, people within the group have been sharing statistics of growth found in libraries and their respective communities, as well as helping to organize protests and marches.
The group is open to the public for those who want to show support.