On Wednesday, Public Eye was the first to tell you British Columbia's public libraries may be forced to reduce their hours if they don't get the funding they need from the provincial government. The Times Colonist's Sandra McCulloch has picked up that story today. And so have the provincial New Democrats, issuing the following news release.
For Immediate Release
July 24, 2009
LIBRARIES MAY BE THE NEXT VICTIMS OF POST-ELECTION CUTS SAYS NDP FINANCE CRITIC RALSTON
SURREY"” Libraries may be the next victims of Gordon Campbell's post-election cuts says New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston.
"The Campbell government misled British Columbians with their pre-election budget," said Ralston. "I'm very concerned that libraries may be the latest casualties of Gordon Campbell's post-election cuts."
Ralston was commenting on news from Andy Ackermann, the president of the association representing library trustees, that libraries across B.C. are still waiting anxiously for their annual provincial operating grants to arrive, nine-months into the fiscal year.
"If the Campbell government doesn't release their operating grants soon libraries will have to absorb the impact of cuts over a very short period of time," said Ralston. "That will translate into sharp decreases in valuable services like job search programs at a time when people need them the most."
Ralston noted that libraries are very important to new Canadians, who use them to access international newspapers at libraries and stay abreast of developments in their home countries.
"For many new Canadians libraries are the only place that they can access international magazines and newspapers and keep up with news from their home countries," said Ralston. "That's just one of the many important services that they provide."
Ralston noted that public libraries received less than $16 million in funding from the province last year, while delivering vital public services like summer reading programs, help with job searches, access to the internet, and access to international newspapers. In contrast, the Campbell government spent more than $31 million on advertising last year.
"This is just one more example of hypocrisy from Gordon Campbell. He said that he wanted British Columbia to be the most literate jurisdiction on the continent, meanwhile he is withholding funds from libraries," said Ralston. "In the midst of an economic downturn the services provided by libraries are more important than ever."
Carole James and the New Democrats want a return to long range stability in budgeting, replacing boom spending and bust cuts with careful, long-term investments in the services that British Columbians rely on.