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Report Card Time: Federal Arts and Culture Programs Update

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Global Public Affairs is the largest independent public affairs firm in Canada with one of the most comprehensive footprints in the country. With offices across the country, we work with an ever-expanding list of Canadian and international clients in multiple aspects of their business, providing comprehensive strategic communications and government relations counsel and services. Members of the Global team have a wide range of experience working with clients on a variety of projects within the Cultural Industries sector. GPA has represented the full spectrum of arts and culture sector players, and are pleased to provide the following update on federal programs and politics.

Government Cultural Priorities

The House of Commons rose on Thursday June 23rd after a busy session for the Liberal Government. Among the legislation passed is the 2022 Budget, Bill C-11 Online Streaming Act, and Bill C-2 which provided additional COVID-19 support to existing funding. Bill C-11 was one of the last pieces of legislation passed in the House, and is now in the Senate for review and expected completion in the Fall. This Bill was one of the priority pieces of legislation for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez outlined by the Liberals in their election platform. The House is scheduled to return on Monday September 19th with a new list of priorities for the Fall Session. The three main priorities for Canadian Heritage include Bill C-18, which regulates digital news intermediaries, a yet to be introduced Bill focusing on online hate, and copyright consultations which will likely take the form of round table discussions across the country. It is expected the Minister’s Office and the Department of Canadian Heritage will be entirely focused on these three areas throughout the Fall session, with no room to focus attention on other areas of the cultural sector until these are addressed. With the House rising for the summer, Members of Parliament will be spending more of their time in their ridings for “BBQ season”. This provides a good opportunity to attend local events and build a relationship with your local MP!

Budget 2022

The 2022 Budget Implementation Bill passed in the House of Commons in June and is currently being examined by the Senate Finance Committee. Once the Senate completes its analysis and debate on the Bill, it will receive Royal Assent, and the Government can begin to implement the financial commitments outlined in the Budget. These include the $50 million funding for the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and Telefilm Canada to help compensate arts, culture, and heritage organizations for revenue losses due to public health restrictions and capacity limits during COVID. On June 27th, the Minister released more information on this $50 million. This funding will be part of the Canada Arts Recovery Program which will provide support for artists and organizations recovering from COVID-19. The funding has been allocated as follows:

  • $31.6 million to the Department of Canadian Heritage:

    • $14 million to the Canada Music Fund;

    • $13.6 million to the Museums Assistance Program; and

    • $4 million to the Canada Arts Presentation Fund

  • $9.2 million to the Canada Council for the Arts

  • $9.2 million to Telefilm Canada

The Canada Council for the Arts is an independent body so the Minister will not have direct control over where the funding is allocated. However, the Council and the Minister’s office are aligned on ensuring this money is allocated effectively and appropriately.

Resiliency Fund

In the 2021 Fall Economic Statement, the Government announced the Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund. This is a $60 million temporary funding program delivered through Canadian Heritage created to retain workers through sector-led and delivered initiatives that improve the economic, career and personal circumstances of independent and self-employed workers in the performance sector. Canadian Heritage chose four organizations to provide direct funding support and services to workers in their sector. This is . The following organizations will be distributing these temporary funds for the 2022-2023 fiscal year:

  • Actors Fund of Canada: $18,665,000

    • The Actors Fund of Canada is currently working on its application and guidelines.

  • Canadian Dance Assembly: $3,883,500

    • The Canadian Dance Assembly is currently working on criteria and an application portal. More information can be found here.

  • Unison: $16,855,000

    • The application portal will be open on July 6th and the funding is available to independent and self-employed workers in the live music sector. More information can be found here.

  • Fondation des artistes: $10,655,000

    • The link to the application page is attached.

Status of the Artist Act

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is expected to release their Report on the Status of the Artist Act this Fall. These reports often include recommended considerations for the House of Commons when debating legislation, and are tabled in the House. The Study for the Report began in March and April of 2022, when the Committee heard from stakeholders from across the cultural sector to provide a more detailed and thorough understanding of the topic at hand. We understand that the Chair of the Committee Hedy Fry is also interested in studying (UBI) for the arts sector as part of this review. The Committee may travel to Ireland this summer to examine Ireland’s Universal Basic Income approach and how the Irish Government implemented this legislation. People can still submit briefs to the Committee on important issues related to the Status of the Artist Act by emailing

Employment Insurance (EI) Phase 2 Consultations

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, is currently working on the second round of Employment Insurance consultations. The first round ran from August 2021 to February 2022, and various stakeholders from across all sectors including employers, unions, industry groups, academics, labour market experts, self-employed and gig worker associations, parent and family associations, community advocacy groups, and health organizations were consulted. The Phase II consultations will run until July 29th, 2022. In this round, the Minister is looking at different ‘buckets’ within EI reform including:

  • Adequacy (amount, duration, hours)

  • Financing (the financial sustainability of the program)

  • Seasonality (workers in seasonal industries)

  • Self-employed and gig workers

  • Premium reductions (incentivizing insurance companies and large employers to offer special benefits for reduced premiums)

The Minster is approaching EI reform from an “across Canada” perspective and not by sector. There are known challenges in reviewing the gig worker portion of EI reform regarding misclassification. Many individual workers are not captured in certain definitions due to the structure of their contracts. The legislative reforms will attempt to address these challenges. The Minister believes there should be input from Canadian Heritage regarding the gig worker portion of EI reform as many workers in the culture sector are 'gig workers’. The Minister will be seeking support from Canadian Heritage. The Minister is also encouraging Canadians to submit recommendations to the consultations by way of the link attached. _________________ If you have any questions, please reach out to the Cultural Industries Team. We would be happy to help walk you through the many projects and discussions around arts and culture that have happened over the last 10 months, and our best guesses as to how things will continue to unfold after the summer break! Elizabeth Seip, Monique Smith

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