April 7, 2021: Thanks to all who attended our recent information sessions for libraries and our users. Recordings and transcripts are now available for those who were not able to join us.
New letters which reflect the current call for longer term funding are now for users, libraries and partners to send to their MPs. If you have previously sent letters, please consider thanking your MP for the funding reprieve and letting them know how important sustained funding is for accessible book production.
March 16, 2021: On March 16, Minister Qualtrough released a statement restoring $1 million in funding for accessible reading materials for the upcoming 2021-2022 budget year. This reprieve means that there will not be cuts to funding to CELA services, for this year. Federal funding is not assured for future years.
So what's next? Join CELA and NNELS for an information session on Tuesday, March 30 to learn more about the current situation and our plan going forward.
We need your help!
As a reader and lover of books, you know that access to new information and ideas is crucial to education, to employment and even to your opportunities to connect socially with your community. And yet fewer than 1 in 10 books are available in accessible formats for those with print disabilities.
And now, your access to reading materials could be restricted due to cuts in the funding that supports CELA’s development and distribution of accessible books.
The federal government’s 2020 Fall Economic Statement (FES) included an announcement that our current annual funding of $3 million will be reduced by 25% annually before ending entirely in 2024-2025. Our colleagues at NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library Service) are also facing 25% cuts to their funding.
The decision to terminate funding was made without consultation or advance warning and will have a devastating impact on CELA’s ability to produce new books for our collection and distribute materials including audio CDs and physical braille to our users.
Our users could see an immediate reduction in our services if full funding is not restored.
Along with our colleagues at NNELS, we are actively engaging with the federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, the Hon. Carla Qualtrough, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Chrystia Freeland, and key opposition Members of Parliament in an effort to have funding restored.
But it is now clear that we need YOUR help! We only have a few weeks to influence the federal budget process.
What you can do
- Write your MP, Ministers Qualtrough and Freeland, and key opposition Members of Parliament. We have drafted letters you can use (for patrons, libraries and partners), or you can use your own. We have also included a link to find your local MP's contact information.
- Share this information with your family, friends, colleagues and your disability support organizations and ask them to join in this fight.
- Share information on your social media. We’ve included graphics you can use, or simply follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts and share our posts. Consider tagging Ministers Qualtrough and Freeland, and Prime Minister Trudeau. Please use these hashtags so we can track the campaign and amplify your efforts: #cdnpoli #RestoreAccessibleBookFunding
- Consider making a phone call to your MP. It is urgent that the government and the opposition know how important accessible reading materials are to their constituents. We have included some speaking points below.
Social media graphics
#1: Fewer than 1 in 10 books in Canada are published in accessible formats for people with print disabilities. And the Government of Canada is cutting the funding that supports their production.
ALT Text: The graphic is cut in half. On the right is an image of 3 shelves of books. At the center of the middle shelf a book is missing creating a black hole. On the left is the following text: Fewer than 1 in 10 books in Canada are published in accessible formats for people with print disabilities. And the Government of Canada is cutting the funding that supports their production. Accessible Books Matter. Visit celalibrary.ca or nnels.ca for info. At the bottom in a red bar is white text which reads Help us stop the cuts!
#2: Accessible Books Matter
- For education
- For employment
- For equity and inclusion
And the Government of Canada is cutting the funding that supports their production.
ALT Text: The graphic is cut in half. On the right is an image of 3 shelves of books. At the center of the middle shelf a book is missing creating a black hole. On the left is the following text: Accessible Books Matter for education, for employment, for equity and inclusion. And the Government of Canada is cutting the funding that supports their production. Accessible Books Matter. Visit nnels.ca or celalibrary.ca for info. At the bottom in a red bar is white text which reads Help us stop the cuts!
#3: 1 in 10 Canadians have a print disability and need accessible books. The Government of Canada is cutting the funding that supports the production of books they can read.
#4: The Government of Canada promotes equity and inclusion for people with disabilities. But they are cutting the funding that supports the production of accessible books.
ALT Text: The graphic is cut in half. On the right is an image of 3 shelves of books. At the center of the middle shelf a book is missing creating a black hole. On the left is the following text: The Government of Canada promotes equity and inclusion for people with disabilities. And the Government of Canada is cutting the funding that supports their production. Accessible Books Matter. Visit nnels.ca or celalibrary.ca for info. At the bottom in a red bar is white text which reads Help us stop the cuts!
How to contact your MP
You can find your Member of Parliament’s contact information using this link to the House of Commons website.
Email, phone and address information can all be found at the above link using your postal code or your Member of Parliament’s name.
Remember that any letters you send via Canada Post can be sent to MPs without postage.
You can also email your comments to your MP, or call their office to register your concerns.
What to say when communicating with your MP
Whether writing a letter or calling your MP, the most important thing your representative needs to hear is how important accessible books and CELA services are to you. Plan to share how accessible reading materials impact your life, your studies, your work, and your health. Heartfelt statements are very persuasive. Consider writing about how accessible reading materials impacts your:
- education, either formal or informal,
- economic situation,
- ability to stay informed about the world around you,
- ability to connect with others in your community and with your culture,
- ability to engage in hobbies and activities
Some suggested sentence starters:
- Being able to read books in accessible format allows me…
- Access to the accessible books, magazines and newspapers available through CELA means…
- Accessible reading materials are important to me because…
We’ve also included some facts and points to help you make your case.
Facts and Figures
- 1 in 10 people have print disabilities. That means there are at least 3 million Canadian residents who need our services.
- Print disabilities include low vision or blindness, learning disabilities like dyslexia or physical disabilities like Parkinson's, Cerebral Palsy and others which prevent them from using traditional print.
- People with disabilities are already underserved, facing barriers to accessing education, employment and services, and they are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
- Each year in Canada, people with print disabilities read more than 1 million accessible titles, and the majority are in physical formats.
- Access to reading materials is crucial to economic and academic success, and social inclusion which supports mental health and wellness.
- Studies have shown that choice in reading materials is essential for engaging students with print disabilities in academic and recreational reading – both crucial to future success. A reduction in funding for accessible books means a reduction in the choice of reading materials.
- Because CELA supports libraries across the country, we are able to provide a service that is comprehensive, efficient, cost effective and offers more value than libraries could achieve individually.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a deadline for the letters of support?
Yes. The federal government is currently drafting the budget which is expected to be released in late March. We would appreciate letters being sent by mid-March.
Where do I send the letters?
The federal minsters responsible for this decision are:
- the Hon. Carla Qualtrough,
House of Commons, Confederation Building - Room 707
- the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Chrystia Freeland
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Where can I find more information about CELA?
You can find more information on our About us page. We’ve also put together some interesting facts about CELA you can use in your communications.
What CELA services will be impacted if the funding for accessible book production is cut?
There will be an immediate impact on our ability to produce and distribute physical materials including audio CDs and physical braille. Users may face immediate restrictions on the amount of reading material they could receive.
Funding cuts will also impact our ability to produce books for our collection, reducing choice and access to new reading materials for all our users whether they access physical or digital materials.
Why is CELA working with NNELS on this initiative?
We believe it is essential that CELA and NNELS speak together on behalf of all those with print disabilities to persuade the federal government to restore funding.