HALIBURTON, ON- Haliburton’s Queen’s Park representative is explaining why the province made controversial cuts to library loaning services.

MPP Laurie Scott released a letter today, detailing the thought process and reasoning behind cutting the funds to the Southern Ontario Library Services.

In her letter, she explained that when the Conservatives took office “the books were in terrible shape,” with a $15 billion deficit and an overall debt of $340 billion.

Scott says that going into the 2019 fiscal year, Ontario had allocated $25 million for libraries.

She also says “At the same time, we proposed a reduction in the amount of funding the province provides to SOLS (the library service) and asked them to find efficiencies in their operations. It is important to note that SOLS receives the majority of its revenue from sources other than provincial operating grants.”

According to Scott, following the announcement of how much funding they were getting, SOLS decided to cancel the Interlibrary Loan Services.

“At a cost of $1.3 million per year, SOLS indicated that it was having difficulty sustaining this program even before the funding change,” the minister wrote.

“It is difficult to justify using vans to courier library books between different systems, especially when there are alternatives available. For example, Canada Post offers a special discounted Library Materials Service to subsidize the cost of mailings for public libraries where items can be mailed for $1.38 each (round trip).”

“This is a significant cost reduction over the $4 per item cost for the inter-library loan service. Additionally, the Haliburton County Public Library provides access to over 700,000 digital books through its e-book service.”

Scott acknowledged that not everyone has access or means to the internet required to get e-resources, and said “this week, we announced a $71 million investment into the EORN project to close the mobile broadband gaps in Eastern Ontario, and ensure 99% cellular broadband coverage in our region.”

“It is not possible to make investments into critical projects, like EORN, and work toward a balanced budget – without a more efficient means of service delivery,” wrote the minister.

“That is why we are asking our partners to work with us and find savings that will enable them to avoid reducing important public services. Our public libraries are an important part of our local communities, and we value their contributions to education, literacy, culture, and the arts. I want to assure you that our Government will continue to provide support to Ontario’s public libraries.”