People from across Saskatchewan say they’re fighting back against the Saskatchewan government’s recent cuts to libraries.
A campaign was launched online called Save Sask. Libraries after the province axed the $1.3 million operating grant to the municipal library systems in Regina and Saskatoon.
The seven regional library systems are facing a loss of almost 60 -percent of their funding, about 3.5-million dollars.
Stacey Landin is the president of CUPE local 9, which represents workers at Palliser Regional Library in southern Saskatchewan. She says cuts in the recent provincial budget went deep.
“Just to put a fine point on it,” says Landin. “At our Palliser Regional Library headquarters, there are eight unionized staff. Six of received layoff notices which means 75-percent of that workforce there loses their jobs. These are folks who work at the headquarters here in Moose Jaw who helped acquire and process books and get them to the smaller rural libraries within the Palliser region.”
Landin says the impact of the cuts from last week’s budget will hit a large swath of residents in southern Saskatchewan. “We have 12 branches across Palliser that extend a long distance our southern part of the province,” says Landin. “From Coronach, up to Imperial to Davidson.”
She accuses the government of deliberately targeting these facilities. “Often the people who use libraries – certainly not exclusively, but often – they’re the most vulnerable in our society that are least likely to speak out,” says Landin. “And I’m worried that’s why this government has chosen to cut money here, because they don’t think they’ll get much opposition.”
Landin says a grassroots “read-in” campaign is happening next Friday in hopes the government will reinstate the funding. She says people are encouraged to take a book to their MLA’s office around noon on April 7 and spend a few minutes reading.
Landin also says social media campaigns have been underway since details in the budget were released.