After watching the elimination of more than half of the positions of an agency that enhances the quality of libraries across the province, the president of CUPE 4705, called on residents of Northern Ontario to apply massive pressure to the Ford government before they inflict more damage.

“The Ford government is trying to claim that the losses they are inflicting are because of choices made by others. That is simply not true,” said Mike Bellerose, president of CUPE 4705, which represents workers at Ontario Library Services-North (OLS-North).

“Our members’ livelihoods are being destroyed – vital services that remote, rural and Indigenous communities depend on are disappearing, and responsibility lies solely with Doug Ford and the rest of the government currently occupying Queen’s Park. I call on Northerners to make their voices heard in their communities, in the MPPs’ constituency offices and in the streets,” he added.

For 30 years, OLS-North and its southern counterpart, Southern Ontario Library Services (SOLS) have provided vital support to municipal libraries across the province, coordinating an interlibrary loan program and other services that greatly enhance the quality of service provided at Ontario’s libraries.

Following the tabling of the Provincial Budget on April 11, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport informed management of OLS-North and Southern Ontario Library Services that their budgets were being cut by 50 per cent.

At OLS-North, five of eleven full-time employees have received layoff notices, while a sixth employee will see their position downgraded to a part-time job.

“These cuts may have decimated our membership, but they have also strengthened our resolve to push back against a government that is clearly out of touch with the needs of its constituents. We hope that others across Northern Ontario share our resolve,” said Bellerose.

He urged residents – particularly in communities represented provincially for the PC Party of Ontario – to contact their MPPs to “apply massive pressure to stop a destructive agenda that clearly isn’t ‘for the people’ in our communities.”