Minimum wage and the public library

The Ontario Liberal government has introduced $15/hour minimum wage to be brought in by January 1st, 2019; by January 2018 it will be $14/hour. This is a great day for those who work for minimum wage. It has been a long time coming and I applaud it. Businesses are complaining about it being too much too fast….Hello….how do you think an employer who makes no sales/no money feels?

As the CEO of a small public library I see this as a problem. Come next summer I will be forced to pay a summer student (or two) $14/hour. I am wondering what plans the Ontario government has for funding libraries come next summer.

My budget as a small public library is fairly miniscule, and the governments funding is even more dismal. As a non-profit, public service I am not sure how I would fork out an additional almost $800 per student (for 10 weeks at 30hrs per week) if the government does not have a plan for helping libraries pay for it.

Now $800 may not sound like a lot of money, but if anything has been as stagnant as wages in Canada, it is the amount of money given to public libraries since the 1990’s.

Smaller municipalities such as mine won’t/can’t put forward any more additional money, and the provincial government has given out the same amount of money to libraries since 1995/1996, after cutting it in half the previous year.

I hear all the doom and gloom from employers about not being able to pay more, I for one am leaning more towards the employees right to a living wage, but as a public service employer I can’t just raise prices…I don’t have prices. Our only income raised by us is through fines/fees and fundraising (make up only 10% of my budget). There is only so much people will pay for fines and photo copy/fax fees; fundraising for a library is only for special purposes; I can fund-raise for a new shelf, but not just in general because we need money for the budget.

I think this increase should have happened at the start of this governments term and raised a dollar a year over four years, instead of $3.70 in 18 months. Businesses can raise prices, and make money..not-for profit services such as public libraries do not have that luxury.

What’s a librarian to do?


1 thought on “Minimum wage and the public library

  1. Matt Thomas

    I think the only thing you can do is to make the best argument for increased funding from the municipality and to plan for having to make do with fewer (or no) student workers. But don’t stay quiet about the issue. Managers and those with wages in their budgets should have seen this inevitability. Your idea about the minimum wage being increased slowly over time is a great one but those people should have been advocating for it a long time ago.


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