The Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FCAB) thanks the Government of Canada for measures proposed in the 2017 Federal Budget that will increase accessibility for knowledge and cultural materials, particularly for Indigenous languages, through proposed digitization and infrastructure investments.
We support the budget’s commitment to providing Canadians with skills and opportunities to innovate and contribute to the economy. Libraries are community hubs—public spaces with significant IT infrastructure—that will play an important role as Canada’s economy becomes increasingly dependent on the knowledge of our people and the strength of our networks. The budget committed $29.5 million over 5 years to establish the Digital Literacy Exchange Program to support digital literacy initiatives at facilities such as public libraries.
“We are pleased that the government recognizes the importance of public libraries in providing digital learning opportunities to Canadians,” said Peter Bailey, CFLA-FCAB Chair. “Libraries are spaces that work toward universal access and teaching basic digital skills to vulnerable groups is an area where services our members provide can be improved and expanded.”
CFLA-FCAB welcomes the Budget’s nearly $90 million investment in support of Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) languages and cultures, an important part of reconciliation efforts. “This government has shown that it recognizes the importance of funding to the accessibility of cultural materials,” said Bailey. “We thank the Government of Canada for the $14.9 million commitment to support the digitization of Indigenous language and cultural materials by Libraries and Archives Canada.”
CFLA-FCAB encouraged the government to invest in library infrastructure directly in its pre-budget submission. While that investment was not made in the budget, other investments like the commitment to provide $300 million for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund and a $77 million investment in the Enabling Accessibilities Fund (both over the next ten years) may also lead to opportunities for libraries to invest in their infrastructure.