News / Toronto

Library program that offers free passes to Toronto attractions loses funding

At the end of 2018, Sun Life Financial will cut off funding for the program, saying it didn't align with the company's re-evaluated priorities.

With a library card, you can still take out free passes for various Toronto attractions until the end of 2018. After that, the program needs a new donor to survive.

Torstar News Service Order this photo

With a library card, you can still take out free passes for various Toronto attractions until the end of 2018. After that, the program needs a new donor to survive.

Sun Life Financial has pulled funding for a popular Toronto Public Library program that offers free passes for museums and attractions like the ROM, zoo and Ontario Science Centre, leaving its future uncertain.

The 10-year-old Museum and Arts Pass (MAP) initiative gives people with library cards access to passes for up to two adults and five kids that can be borrowed at any of the library branches.

Sun Life provided about $200,000 a year but decided to cancel that money because the program didn't align with its re-evaluated priorities, said Paul Joliat, assistant vice-president of philanthropy and sponsorships.

"While the MAP program is a fantastic initiative, it doesn't quite fit our refined criteria," Joliat said. "These dollars are going to be reinvested within the arts and culture community across this country."

The contract for funding is up at the end of the year, but Joliat said the company will continue providing it through the end of 2018 so the library is not left "high and dry." He added that Sun Life will continue to fund the Toronto Public Library's musical instrument lending program.

Despite the cancellation, Toronto Public Library spokesperson Ana-Maria Critchley is optimistic.

"It's a really successful program," she said, noting that more than 1.5 million people have visited 17 cultural institutions they might not otherwise be able to afford.

"We're very confident that we're going to able to find another sponsor."

More on Metronews.ca