The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport provides this information to help public libraries understand how the Municipal Act, 2001 affects them.

This is a general discussion and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. For further information, or if you have questions about your particular circumstances, you must consult with your own legal advisors.

Why public libraries are affected

Public libraries are affected by the Municipal Act, 2001, because they are municipally established local boards. As such, they are included in the Act's definition of local boards for the purposes of that Act.

Board governance

The Municipal Act, 2001, clause 195 (2) (b) provides that a municipality may give control and management of municipal services to a municipal services board by delegating to the board all or part of the municipality's powers under any Act related to the municipal services.

The Public Libraries Act (PLA) allows municipalities to establish public library boards. Once established, the library board operates the library — not the municipality.

Therefore, a municipality can delegate its authority to establish a library board to a municipal services board, but it can’t give a municipal services board the authority to operate a library.

Contracting for library service while having an established library board

The Municipal Act, 2001, may permit a municipality that has already established a library board to enter into a library services agreement with a neighbouring library board. However, an arrangement like this would not be consistent with the provisions of the PLA.

Section 29 of the PLA allows municipalities and First Nations to enter into a contract with a library board instead of establishing a public library themselves. Section 30 of the PLA provides for funding of municipalities that have entered into a contract with a neighbouring library board under section 29.

Under the PLA, a municipality can’t enter into a contract with a neighbouring library board for library services when it has already established a library board. Once library boards have been established, any agreements regarding library service must be between boards, as described in section 20 (a) of the PLA.

Financial reporting requirements — audited financial statements for public library boards

Section 296(11) of the Municipal Act, 2001, states:

Where the financial statements of a municipality and a local board are consolidated, the municipality may require the local board to be audited as if it were part of the municipality, in which case, the auditor of the municipality is not required to provide a separate opinion with respect to the statements of the local board. 2001, c. 25, s. 296 (11).

Public library boards and First Nation Bands, Local Services Boards and municipalities that contract for library service receive library funding under section 30 of the PLA. PLA Regulation 976 1(b) requires that recipients of library funding under section 30 supply the financial statements and information to the minister.

A library board can supply its financial information in a consolidated audited financial statement as noted in Municipal Act, 2001, s. 296 (11), as long as the library’s financial information is in a separate schedule or appendix or is otherwise clearly distinguishable.