Maureen: Why did you decide to run for Mayor?
Olivia: I love our city and I’ve spent most of my public life working with the people and communities who share that. Its current leadership has failed. It has cut services, hurt our communities and has only brought failed policies. We can no longer afford that. We need a new mayor. One that will build a better city. A new mayor that will put children and families at the heart of our city. A mayor that will invest now to get people moving faster now. And as your new mayor, I intend to do just that.
Maureen: In your platform, you’ve said you want to “put children and families at the heart of our city”. What role do you see for the Toronto Public Library (TPL) in this?
Olivia: I know firsthand that the Toronto Public Library is so much more than a lender. It offers classes, community programming, access to computers, and so many other services and supports that our communities rely on. It helps keep our communities strong. We need to ensure it continues to support our communities’ needs, both now and in the future. The Toronto Public Library will play a key role in making sure children and families are kept at the heart of our city.
Maureen: Newcomers are an important part of our city. When you taught English as a second language, did you ever make use of the resources TPL had to offer? What do you think the TPL can do to further help newcomers to the city?
Olivia: As a new immigrant here, I remember having a hard time adjusting and fitting in. The Toronto Public Library was central to that adjustment process and as such, I know firsthand how important the Toronto Public Library is to our newcomer community. I certainly relied on many of the community
programs, classes and other services when I taught English as a second language.
Maureen: The entire TPL system currently costs about 17 cents per resident per day. This is considerably less than during the past 20 years because of years of budget cuts by Council and great population growth. How would you approach the issue of determining what is the right level of funding for the roles we expect of the library and its employees?
Olivia: I reiterate that the Toronto Public Library is a critical part of every community. It does so much more than lend materials – it offers classes, community programming, access to computers, and so many other services and supports that make our communities strong. We need to invest in it to ensure it keeps up with our communities’ needs, now and in the future. Like many of our social supports, funding for our libraries hasn’t kept pace with inflation or with population growth.
As your new Mayor, I’ll ask the library board to review and report on the impacts of underfunding and a plan to bring our investment to a level that meets the needs of our communities.
Maureen: As Chair of the Civic Appointments Committee, one of the Mayor’s responsibilities is to recommend individuals to sit on various city boards and committees. What qualities and experience would you like to see in new Board members? In a new Chair of the TPLB?
Olivia: Inclusiveness, vision and focus are key.
Maureen: Is there anything you would like to say to the Toronto Public Library Workers?
Olivia: As your new mayor, I look forward to working with the Toronto Public Library Workers throughout our city to ensure you have the supports you need to continue providing the services to our communities. I look forward to working with you to invest now and build a better city together.