Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute privilege for me to stand in the House today on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport to speak in support of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. I am truly grateful for the leadership of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the work that he, his parliamentary secretary, his department and his team have done with respect to the bill.
As I have mentioned a number of times in the chamber, my riding of Davenport in Toronto's west end is home to more artists, creators and those in the culture industry than probably most ridings across this country. They include film producers, writers, directors and musicians, and also art galleries and museums. Anything that impacts the arts and culture sector is of great interest to my riding.
The Canadian broadcasting, film, television and interactive media sectors are also a huge part of the Canadian economy. They contribute about $19.7 billion to Canada's GDP and account for nearly 160,000 jobs. A lot of people do not know this, but the arts, culture and heritage sector is a $47.8 billion contribution to the Canadian economy. It employs over 650,000 Canadians in this country. It is a huge and very important sector, so this type of legislation is particularly important.
We have been promising to update the Broadcasting Act to level the playing field for a number of years now, so I am really happy that Bill C-10 is now before the House.
We mentioned in our 2019 platform that within our first year we wanted to move forward with legislation that would take appropriate measures to ensure that all content providers, including Internet giants, offer meaningful levels of Canadian content in their catalogues, contribute to the creation of Canadian content in both official languages, promote this content and make it easily accessible on their platforms.
We also know that in January 2020, the broadcasting and telecommunications panel released its report entitled “Canada's Communications Future: Time to Act”. It included a number of recommendations and proposals on how to improve our broadcasting system here in Canada, which we now see encompassed in Bill C-10.
What is being proposed in Bill C-10?
The first is to modernize the Broadcasting Act, which has not been updated since before the digital age. My understanding, as my colleague just said, is that the last major reform to the Broadcasting Act was almost 30 years ago, in 1991.
Canada has a long history of supporting the creation of and access to Canadian film, music, television and digital media programming, while at the same time facilitating the access of Canadians to foreign content. Historically, we have had what we call a closed broadcasting system, which has been oriented around Canadian ownership and control of businesses showing Canadian content. However, today, with the increase in programming being consumed over the Internet, the legislative and regulatory framework for broadcasting needs to be modernized. That is the first thing that Bill C-10 does. It clarifies that online broadcasting is within the scope of the act. It is crazy that it took us so long to do this.
As we know, Canadians have more and more access to music and television through online services like Netflix, Spotify, Crave and CBC Gem. We know these online video services have grown their revenues by approximately 90% per year over the last two years, while traditional broadcasters have seen a steady decline of almost 2% per year over the last five years. The shifting market dominance illustrated by Netflix, which is now present in most Canadian households, including my own, generated over a billion dollars in revenue in Canada in 2019.
We also know that online broadcasting services are not subject to the same rules as traditional broadcasting services like over-the-air television, cable and radio. Under Canadian broadcasting laws, online broadcasters are not required to support Canadian music and storytelling, and other important broadcasting objectives. What is the result? We see the revenues of online broadcasters growing, yet they are not required to contribute to Canadian music and storytelling. At the same time, the revenues of traditional broadcasters are stagnating and declining, which means we have an overall negative impact on funding Canadian content and Canadian creators moving forward. Therefore, support for Canadian content is at risk and this bill is hoping to address that issue.
Furthermore, it would also address a regulatory imbalance that puts traditional Canadian broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage compared with online broadcasters. Bill C-10 would update broadcasting and regulatory policy to ensure a fair and equitable treatment of online and traditional broadcasters, so we do not have one set of rules for Canadian broadcasters and another one for foreign broadcasters.
The amendments proposed by Bill C-10 would empower the CRTC to implement a modernized broadcasting regulatory framework that would ensure both traditional and online broadcasting undertakings contribute in an appropriate manner to the Canadian broadcasting system.
It is important to note that while we know this is an important first step, we also know we are going to have to engage in further reforms in order to more fully modernize the broadcasting system and ensure Canada will continue to support the creation and production of audiovisual content in the digital age.
What else would Bill C-10 do? It would also update broadcasting regulatory policy so the CRTC would be enabled to showcase more diverse creative voices in the broadcasting sector, most notably with respect to indigenous peoples, racialized communities and persons with disabilities.
This is a huge ask from those artists and creators in my riding of Davenport, where 40% of them were born outside of the country. For them, it is really important to hear the creative voices from our diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and ages. It is a huge ask from my community, so I want to thank them for their continued advocacy. I am delighted this would be enabled by Bill C-10.
The bill would also amend the act to take greater account of indigenous cultures and languages. To me, this is extraordinarily important because it is part of our ongoing effort to build a new nation-to-nation relationship with Canada's aboriginal people. A way for us to better understand and learn about each other is through our stories.
I am also pleased to say that an updated Broadcasting Act, one that treats online and traditional broadcasters equally, would increase the funding available to Canadian artists and creators. Indeed, it is estimated these changes would result in an increase in contributions to Canadian music and stories of as much as $830 million per year once the new system is put into place.
We should note that how artists and creators receive income has changed. A world that has become increasingly digital has exacerbated the overall issue of how Canadian artists earn their income. Providing some changes to the Broadcasting Act to start addressing this issue is really important for us to do.
I also want to note that we are going through an unprecedented pandemic right now, and arts and culture are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. These types of legislation would help make some of the structural changes and help us create a more healthy and economically viable sector moving forward.
I should mention that what is not included in Bill C-10 is user-generated content, so video games and news media would not be affected by our proposed changes. It is important to note that.
I know my time is coming to an end, so I am going to conclude by saying I am absolutely delighted by the efforts of our hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage to modernize the Broadcasting Act and level the playing field so all our creators have more funding for Canadian stories. I very much favour this bill. It provides us with an opportunity to have a more inclusive broadcasting sector for all Canadians, whether francophone, anglophone or from racialized communities: Canadians of all diversities and statuses.
The bill would ensure the circumstances and aspirations of all Canadians are reflected in the Broadcasting Act. It would result in a more equitable broadcasting system, requiring online broadcasters to contribute their fair share. These amendments would absolutely modernize the Broadcasting Act for the digital age for many years to come.
I would like to end by saying I want to echo the Minister of Canadian Heritage's words yesterday, urging all of my hon. colleagues to support this bill. The sooner we get this bill passed, the sooner we will be able to put a fairer system in place.