Yesterday, the Federal Government announced another round of major cuts to the federal public service. Numerous departments are affected, including Library and Archives Canada which will lose over 300 positions. In addition to staff cutbacks at LAC/BAC, the government has cancelled the National Archival Development Program (NADP) – a major source of funding for archival organizations across the country – and closed the office of the Canada Council of Archives (CCA). The CCA was founded in 1985 as a result of federal-provincial efforts to encourage and facilitate the evolution of an archival system in Canada. Major successes have been realized since then, in large part due to the funding programs and standards overseen by the CCA.
We are stunned. This is not only devastating to the archival community but will impede access to Canada’s documentary heritage by Canadians for the foreseeable future. The immediate impact on the Dalhousie Archives and Special Collections will be drastic. We have spent significant time preparing two applications for this year’s NADP program and were recently informed that the projects had received provisional approval. We were expecting to hire three temporary archives assistants this year – jobs that would be excellent opportunities for students or recent graduates – but are no longer in a position to move forward with the projects. Since 2001, the Archives and Special Collections has received over $90,000 through the NADP program and other funding programs administered by the CCA. These funds have contributed to the budgets for major projects, including:
- The refoldering and reboxing of poorly boxed archival materials
- The processing of dozens of small private medical collections
- The creation of a digital collection of Robert Doyle Costume and Set Design artwork
- The purchase of a large scanner and software for digitization projects
- The hiring of a professional conservator to clean glass plate negatives from the Waldren Studios Collection
- The purchase of safety ladders and book trucks
- The processing the archival records of the Maritime School of Social Work (UA-22)
- The hiring of a professional conservator to assist with the development of a long-term preservation plan
- The creation of over 130 guides to small archival collections
- The processing of the Eye Level Gallery fonds (MS-3-35)
- The processing of the IBEW Local 625 fonds (MS-9-55)
- Preservation activities on key historical records of Dalhousie University
- The processing of the Alan Creighton fonds (MS-2-701), Catherine Creighton and Family fonds (MS-2-656), G. Wilfred Creighton fonds (MS-2-264), and Norman Creighton fonds (MS-2-689)
- The processing of the Oland and Son Limited fonds and Oland Family fonds
Without the funds from CCA administered grant programs, these projects would not have been possible. All members of the Council of Nova Scotia Archives will be affected, and the fate of provincial/territorial associations across the country is in doubt. The Archives Association of Ontario has already announced that all of its programs and services are on hold. More importantly, the cuts will have an immediate impact on information-seeking Canadians, especially if provincial and territorial councils are forced to curtail their activities and services. Portions of our documentary heritage will continue to remain inaccessible to the public while project-ready jobs will go unfilled.
What can you do? Lots!
- Write to your MP and express your dissatisfaction with the government’s decisions to cut NAPD funding and close the CCA office
- Follow and engage with the Canadian Association of University Teachers‘ Save Library and Archives Canada campaign
- Come visit us to learn more about our holdings, services, and activities
- Visit other archival organizations in your area and express your support
- Spread the news about threats to Canada’s documentary heritage on your social media networks
- Send letters to the editors of your local newspapers
Please join us in rejecting this hostile agenda against our public memory and documentary heritage. A future without stable and consistent funding for archival organizations is bleak indeed.
This is VERY alarming for the future of our cultural archives and also for the hard-working specialized workers that are loosing their positions. Please let us know if we can help somehow. I am completely revolted by this news.
Director, Centre for Art Tapes
In addition: there has never been a more appropriate time to write letters to our MLAs. Now is the time to express our disdain for this government and its wrath against Canada. I encourage students and faculty, as well as the general public to self-organize and exercise their democratic voice (we need to do this more than once every 4 years if we truly want to experience change).
It is sad to see such drastic cuts to cultural and educational programs while military and industrial spending expands. I’ve written to my MP to express disapproval and concern about Canada’s cultural heritage.