The new mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, was elected last October on getting the 'gravy' out of the city budgets. He is having some 'challenges' trying to find it. He has stated that the city must find savings to cover a $774 million budget shortfall.
Last week, Mayor Ford's brother, Doug who is a city councillor, stated that there were more public libraries than Tim Hortons in his ward. (This was found to be incorrect). He also indicated that he would cut a library branch "in a heartbeat". (According to the Ontario Public Libraries Act, the municipal council cannot ask the library board to cut a specific service or location, only decrease the municipal grant.)
Respected author Margaret Atwood came forward to defend Toronto Public Library via Twitter. She asked the community to sign a petition to oppose library cuts. Here is Councillor Ford's response:
"Well, good luck to Margaret Atwood, I don't even know her. If she could walk by me I wouldn't even have a clue who she is," Ford told reporters on Tuesday. "But she's not down here, she's not dealing with the problems, and if she did, tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected and we'd be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood." The next day, he tempered his additional comments: “What I was saying is, everyone knows who Margaret Atwood is. But if she were to come up to 98% of the people, they wouldn’t know who she was. But I think she’s a great writer and I look forward to her input. And saying that, we have to look for $774-million and we have to look at efficiencies right across the board.”
On Friday, the Executive Committee of Toronto Council listened to 20 hours straight of public delegations on the budget. The most impassioned appeals came from those supporting the library. No decisions on the cuts for the 2012 budget have been made.
The Toronto Public Library is the busiest public library system in North America. Canadian libraries have not had the massive cuts of many U.S. and U.K. libraries. However, future cuts cannot be discounted in Ontario and the rest of Canada.
Have your libraries been affected by budget cuts?