04/20/2017 14:31 EDT | Updated 04/23/2017 11:22 EDT

Saskatchewan reviewing cut to library funding made in last month's budget

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he has asked his education minister to review the government's decision to cut library funding.

Money for regional libraries was cut by 58 per cent in last month's provincial budget as part of a plan to reduce Saskatchewan's nearly $1.3-million deficit.

Funding was scrapped altogether for Saskatoon and Regina libraries.

There have been a number of protests since the cuts, and regional libraries have laid off staff and announced that inter-library transfers will be eliminated.

Wall says tough decisions had to be made if the province is to get back to a balanced budget.

An online poll done earlier this month showed support for Wall's Saskatchewan Party dropped to 44 per cent.

"We knew the budget would be unpopular and said so prior to its introduction," Wall said Thursday. "This budget was not about trying to win popularity, but rather to do what is best for the province's finances and economy.

"That said ... I have asked Minister (Don) Morgan to review the library funding issue and report back next week."

Replying to a question in the legislature last month, Morgan appeared to suggest there were too many libraries in the province. He said more than 90 rural communities with a library also have one in their school and there are opportunities to combine resources in those communities.

He also said the number of items checked out of all libraries had dropped by 1.6 million items since 2007 and the number of library cards had dropped by 175,000.