Evidence of meeting #34 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was advertising.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marc Saint-Pierre  Director General, Government Information Services Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Louise de Jourdan  Director, Advertising Coordination and Partnerships, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Julien Brazeau  Associate Deputy Commissioner, Competition Promotion Branch, Competition Bureau
Mark Schaan  Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry
Adam Scott  Director, Business and Regulatory Analysis, Telecommunications Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry
Jeanne Pratt  Senior Deputy Commissioner, Mergers and Monopolistic Practices Branch, Competition Bureau

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Many communities in Manitoba aren't hooked up to the Internet. These are fairly remote communities. They don't have Internet access, but they do have the weekly newspaper La Liberté. If ads don't appear in La Liberté, these communities could miss out on information.

11:35 a.m.

Director, Advertising Coordination and Partnerships, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Louise de Jourdan

Very recently, we reviewed that component. We made sure that Internet-based communications reached every province and territory in the country equally. Our analysis took into account the breakdown of the population as per the 2011 Census of Population. I can assure you that all online advertising communications by the Government of Canada target francophone and anglophone populations in accordance with the population breakdown established by the census.

11:35 a.m.

Director General, Government Information Services Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marc Saint-Pierre

For the past 10 years, the statistics have shown without a shadow of a doubt that total spending on print media, whether in minority language communities or not, has fallen year after year.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

A private firm helps you with your communications, the Cossette group.

11:35 a.m.

Director General, Government Information Services Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marc Saint-Pierre

That's correct.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Does the firm take into account our official languages policy in its spending decisions?

11:35 a.m.

Director, Advertising Coordination and Partnerships, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Louise de Jourdan

Yes, absolutely.

Under all communication contracts for advertising, ad agencies are required to adhere to the Government of Canada's Policy on Communications and Federal Identity. Agencies have a list of legislation and policies that they must comply with in making their recommendations.

We serve as a second pair of eyes, if you will. At the review phase, if we notice that the department's choices do not reflect an equal distribution, we will recommend that it purchase more advertising. If it cannot and has chosen the Internet as its primary means of communication, we will recommend that it use other types of media such as the print media.

11:40 a.m.

Director General, Government Information Services Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marc Saint-Pierre

I have been overseeing Ms. Jourdan's team for 10 years now. I can tell you that we have excellent cooperation from the departments when it comes to official languages. Very seldom have we had to inform a department that its choices were not in line with the balance. Normally, the cooperation we see from the departments is fantastic.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Is there a way to make sure that, when you—

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thanks, Mr. Vandal. Perhaps you can get that in the other round.

Now we'll go to a second round, and it's going to be a five-minute round.

We'll begin with Mr. Waugh for the Conservatives.

November 1st, 2016 / 11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you.

You said the bills from the Internet companies are invoiced and paid in Canadian dollars. I've said in this committee for weeks that we've known for the last seven months that the government has spent $3.5 or $3.6 million for Facebook.

Are these taxes applied to these invoices, and if so, where do the taxes go? If we are buying from the Canadian arm of these Internet companies like Facebook, like Twitter, do we get the taxes and do they go into Canadian coffers?

11:40 a.m.

Director, Advertising Coordination and Partnerships, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Louise de Jourdan

I can confirm to you that Facebook, Google, and Twitter are invoiced in Canadian dollars but these companies do not collect tax on behalf of the Canadian government.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Why?

11:40 a.m.

Director, Advertising Coordination and Partnerships, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Louise de Jourdan

I don't know. That's not my area of expertise.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

There is silence in the room now.

11:40 a.m.

Director General, Government Information Services Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marc Saint-Pierre

That's outside our—

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Do you think they should be paying taxes?

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Mr. Waugh, it's not in order to ask that question of witnesses from the department.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

We all know that it's our 150th birthday starting in January. You said we're going to have more advertising. How much more advertising to celebrate the Confederation of Canada?

11:40 a.m.

Director, Advertising Coordination and Partnerships, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Louise de Jourdan

We're not going to have more advertising. Advertising programs haven't really got going yet.

The advertising plan, like the strategic plan, was approved but before advertising dollars get under way it's the subject of a Treasury Board submission. That's going to happen later this year.

As Marc pointed out, it's important to note that the government, during budget 2016, confirmed a $40-million reduction in the advertising envelope so there will be some but overall advertising expenditures will be significantly less than in previous years.

It is my understanding that some money is earmarked for the 150th but I can't tell you how much.

11:40 a.m.

Director General, Government Information Services Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marc Saint-Pierre

And as you can see in 2014-15, Canada 150 got $6.5 million of advertising. But once again, with the budget a $40-million reduction will be significant.

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Yes.

We have heard from television broadcasters, and we've heard from newspaper executives here that they haven't spent as much money federally in their media outlets.

One of the problems I've always had as a broadcaster is that ad rates are always higher for federal agencies, and I think that is totally unfair. You can go back into the newspaper business—we have advertising from a federal agency and we are going to up our rates because that's where their rates are—whereas the business rates on Second Avenue are down. I have seen that in our business of television and I've seen that in radio and I've seen that in newspapers. There are two or three different rates. The federal government always pays the highest rates.

11:40 a.m.

Director General, Government Information Services Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marc Saint-Pierre

That's the agency of record, the entity that is buying for the federal government. One of their objectives, and they're being audited on this, is to give us the best possible rate, so when.... Right now the agency of record goes CTV, and I'm being told, Marc, we don't just buy your business, we have other customers and we go to CTV and say usually we buy for x amount of millions of dollars.

I can tell you that we're not paying the highest rate that you are referring to. We're getting reductions, either in the cost or we're getting a second announcement that is free of charge. They're audited on getting us the best rate possible, giving the amount we buy. So if we buy for $100 million, we're going to be able to have better savings than $10 million. That's also a factor that you have to consider.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Okay.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you, Mr. Waugh.

Mr. Samson for the Liberals.