Sask. government reviewing $4.8M in cuts to libraries

Premier Brad Wall has tasked Education Minister Don Morgan with reviewing $4.8 million in cuts made to libraries across the province. By next week he will report his findings.

Education Minister Don Morgan will report his findings by next week

Education Minister Don Morgan told reporters he was surprised regional libraries laid off workers before going back to municipalities to ask for more money. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

After cutting $4.8 million from provincial libraries, Premier Brad Wall has tasked Education Minister Don Morgan with reviewing library funding.

Wall announced the review in a statement on Thursday, in response to a new Insightrix poll that revealed the Sask. Party's support dropped following the 2017-18 provincial budget.

The budget cut the entire $1.3 million to libraries in Regina and Saskatoon, while regional libraries incurred a $3.5 million cut.

Carla Beck, NDP MLA for Regina Lakeview, feels that people speaking out and voicing their displeasure with the decision is a motivation for the review.

"The fact that they are looking at reconsidering it in the face of really overwhelming public pressure, I think that is important," said Beck. 

Earlier this month, read-in events were planned across the province as a way to protest the library cuts. Library supporters went to their local MLA's offices and read for 15 minutes.

Beck said she doesn't think the Sask. Party was expecting to receive the pushback they did. There were close to 6,000 people who showed up to read at 89 locations across the province during the read-ins, Beck said.

On top of that, a petition called "Vote to Save Saskatchewan Libraries" has received more than 14,000 signatures.

"I think this was a short-sighted cut. I don't think the minister understood exactly what he was cutting and how deep the impact would be," said Beck, adding that a response like this has been largely unprecedented in the province.

Beck said that if there is a willingness on the part of Morgan and the Sask. Party to walk back some of their cuts she would welcome that decision. 

"For less than $5 million they are jeopardizing a whole provincial library system that is valued and used," said Beck. "I think he has a chance to do the right thing and I hope he does it."