Evidence of meeting #26 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was sector.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Christina Burridge  Executive Director, BC Seafood Alliance
Melanie Sonnenberg  President, Canadian Independent Fish Harvester's Federation
Leonard LeBlanc  President, Gulf Nova Scotia Fishermen's Coalition
Maxime Smith  Commercial Director, Group MDMP
Geoff Irvine  Executive Director, Lobster Council of Canada
Martin Mallet  Executive Director, Maritime Fishermen's Union
Ian MacPherson  Executive Director, Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association
Mitchell Jollimore  Vice-President, Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association
Jim McIsaac  Vice-President, Pacific, Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters Federation
Kate Edwards  Executive Director, Association of Canadian Publishers
Randy Ambrosie  Commissioner, Canadian Football League
Troy Reeb  Executive Vice-President, Broadcast Networks, Corus Entertainment Inc.
Martin Roy  Executive Director, Festivals and Major Events Canada
Darren Dalgleish  President and Chief Executive Officer, Fort Edmonton Management Company
Brad Keast  Acting Chair, One Voice for Arts and Culture
Peter Simon  President and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Conservatory of Music

5:20 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Mr. Reeb.

We will turn now to Martin Roy, executive director of Festivals and Major Events Canada.

Welcome, Mr. Roy. The floor is yours.

5:20 p.m.

Martin Roy Executive Director, Festivals and Major Events Canada

Good evening, Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Finance.

Festivals and Major Events Canada, also known by the acronym FAME, has over 500 direct and affiliate member organizations of all sizes in nine provinces.

5:20 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I'll interrupt you for a minute, Mr. Roy. Just check at the bottom to make sure that your interpretation is set to the language you're speaking. If you're speaking English, you need to be on English. If you're speaking French, you need to be on French. Otherwise we hear the interpreters and your voice at the same level in our ears.

The panel beside “participants” will likely have the two languages on it if you touch it.

5:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Festivals and Major Events Canada

Martin Roy

It doesn't appear. It's not there.

5:25 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

David, is there a technician who can make sure we don't get both languages at the same time?

Try again, Mr. Roy, and we'll see where it goes.

5:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Festivals and Major Events Canada

Martin Roy

Festivals and Major Events Canada, also known by the acronym FAME, has more than 500 direct and affiliate member organizations of all sizes in nine provinces. The coalition works closely with REMI, the Regroupement des événements majeurs internationaux, which, in Quebec, has about 30 events.

Do you hear me okay? Is it okay for everyone?

5:25 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I'm hearing both languages at the same level.

We'll go to the next witnesses and come back to Mr. Roy. Let's see if he can sort that out.

We will turn to the Fort Edmonton Management Company, with Darren Dalgleish, president and CEO.


5:25 p.m.

Darren Dalgleish President and Chief Executive Officer, Fort Edmonton Management Company

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak to you today.

I'm joining you from Edmonton, Alberta, home of the Oilers, the Eskimos and Canada's largest living history museum, Fort Edmonton Park.

The overall tourism industry in Canada is worth $90 billion of economic activity and 1.7 million jobs. It's an enormous industry, with tentacles in every community.

My experience in the cultural tourism sector includes Ontario and Alberta, so my comments will apply to both provinces, but the challenges are generally uniform across the country.

Cultural tourism organizations such as museums have been fighting a steady decline in visitation over the years. Declining interest, the state of the economy and reduced government funding for cultural institutions have all of us on the edge of sustainability. Tourism attractions are under a strain as well, due to declining discretionary spending, and because the market can only absorb so many tourism offerings where the industry has filled the void from lost industrial and manufacturing activity.

I tell you this just to illustrate how fragile this sector was before this public health crisis. Some organizations, including the Fort Edmonton Management Company, started to focus on expanding their product mix to a more market-aligned portfolio. Why is this? Well, it supports the sustainability of the core product, and it helps preserve the social value that these organizations were created for.

Now, with this health crisis, tourism and cultural organizations find themselves in dire circumstances, because the very nature of tourism relies on visitation and volume. The disruption of travel has impeded our industry as well, and this issue will affect us well beyond the pandemic, because consumer behaviours are likely to linger.

Think about this for a moment. Cultural tourism is one of the only industries where there is no shipping cost or supply chain for your product. Rather, your customers come to you to get it. This was once a strong tailwind for our industry, and it has now become a crippling headwind.

Further, when people travel to our locations, they create an economic impact and multiplier that generates demands for many other businesses. This entire model is now drowning, and it needs to be reimagined so that maximum social and commercial values can be realized.

I remember SARS. Toronto was just a few hours away from our home in Kingston, Ontario. SARS devastated the tourism industry in Toronto, but something remarkable came of it. Prior to SARS, the idea that you would see competitors in hospitality, tourism, theatre, music and culture, etc., collaborating to attract people to their city was not well rooted in the industry. After SARS, the constraints in capacity utilization among these sectors demanded collaboration, and ultimately this collaboration and innovation became the epitome of what we now call destination tourism.

We learned from that, and we need the same approach today—a harmonious response and a clear focus on what's next, not when we can get back to normal.

How does the government's response support this? Wage subsidies and student emergency funding are important and help provide some interim relief, but that doesn't fully address the structural problem here.

Yes, of course, we need to take care of people. We need to support students so they can return to university or college and industry workers so they can support their families, but we should reserve some of this allocated funding to incentivize innovation, growth with new products and infrastructure that supports it, and productivity improvements.

We need to be holistic about what the government provides incentives for with these funds. Subsidies, grants and loans that provide a return to my typical business practice will not force innovation in this evolving market. We need more ROI-driven and market-driven initiatives incentivized.

I'm not sure how that looks, but it needs to drive innovation and growth. Constraints in business drive innovation. When constraints are removed, you go back to yesterday, so I would ask the government to be careful to not fully remove all of these boundaries. As with SARS in 2003 or the collapse of the automotive industry in 2008, business models changed out of necessity because they were constrained.

My question for my friends and colleagues is this: How do we look at this as a generational shift—for a segment of funding anyway—in how we support this industry? What does next-generation destination tourism look like?

We need to redefine our product and service offerings to address the new social and economic environment, because I fully expect these new consumer behaviours and expectations to remain well after the pandemic. We need to take care of employees, we need to take care of our guests and we need to take care of our bottom line. If any of these three legs fail, sustainability is simply dissolved. In short, we have to innovate.

The existing government programs to respond to this crisis in our sector are a great start. They will help position organizations to hit the ground running when we emerge from this crisis. But if I'm being completely honest, I'm less worried about when we'll hit the ground running than I am about how we'll hit the ground running. It's possible that we won't be running at all.

I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. I definitely acknowledge the immense challenge of supporting this very diverse industry. I thank you for that.

5:30 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Mr. Dalgleish.

We'll come back to Festivals and Major Events Canada, and Mr. Roy.

5:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Festivals and Major Events Canada

Martin Roy

I'm sorry, they are still trying to settle the problem. We're not done yet.

5:30 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Okay. We'll go to the end of the line, then, and you'll be the last stop.

5:30 p.m.

Executive Director, Festivals and Major Events Canada

Martin Roy

Perfect. Thank you.

5:30 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Sorry about that, Martin.

We'll turn to One Voice for Arts and Culture, and Brad Keast, the acting chair.

Go ahead, Brad.

5:30 p.m.

Brad Keast Acting Chair, One Voice for Arts and Culture

Mr. Chair, members of the committee and distinguished guests, thank you for receiving these remarks this afternoon and for dedicating time to this important topic.

In our race to act, have we fully taken into account the significance of the moment that we're in? History will judge us, judge us on this period and what comes next, judge us on how we either stoke the flames of our culture through this crucible or how we let them falter.

The Prime Minister recently noted that the arts allow us to dream. More than that, the arts ignite innovation and drive positive change. We must all decide today how history will judge us while under threat. We cannot shrink from this responsibility. We have an opportunity to lead the world and grow and bolster national pride in a transformative way for future generations.

I am a proud Canadian. I am a former combat systems engineering officer, having spent nine years across Canada with the Canadian navy. I am now a real estate executive at Dream Unlimited Corp. in Toronto. I'm also board chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and more recently—and the reason for my appearance today—a co-founder and chair of a new effort, One Voice for Arts and Culture.

Currently representing nearly 100 organizations across eight provinces and three territories, OVAC aims to understand and advocate for the arts and culture sector, most broadly defined. I acknowledge here my co-founders, Brady Wood and Paul Bain, and a small group of volunteers helping to organize our work.

The arts and culture sector is a major contributor to the economy, with some $58 billion in output and directly employing 640,000 people, but the not-for-profit funding model is broken. Most organizations are in a precarious situation at the best of times. There is a drive to maximize programming with the funds available, and this drive for output has all but eliminated resiliency. The current crisis has exposed these weaknesses very clearly. We need to investigate these root causes and repair the model.

The initial federal emergency programs for both individuals and organizations have been positive first steps, but we do need to do more. Ways to improve this would include reducing the time between program announcement and details; clarifying how to apply; finding a way to provide liquidity to this sector; ensuring sector and government collaboration; finding ways to encourage more private and philanthropic giving; seeing culture as infrastructure, not just the occupied buildings but the larger ecosystem the sector strengthens; strengthening Canada's cultural diplomacy strategy; and using this period to lay the groundwork for the national museum policy.

As an example, the $500 million announcement for the arts, culture and sports sectors was made three weeks ago. We're not sure yet how these funds will be distributed in terms of amounts, criteria, mechanism or timing. We look forward to reviewing the details when they are released.

Even with the government's aid packages to date, our work has only just begun. After extensive research in April, the Canada Council for the Arts determined that up to 40% of Canadian arts and culture organizations would not survive without immediate emergency funding.

How the aid packages impact this outcome, as one example, will require deep research and dialogue. For example, one OVAC member is projecting a $10.6 million decrease in revenues. The wage subsidy that has been announced will provide about $700,000 in relief, so there's a very large gap. Depending on how the $500 million is distributed, our organizations may not survive without further funding.

The next challenge will be how we reopen. How do organizations that rely on crowds and gatherings plot a course to confidently re-establish our common experiences? This is a prime example of how the sector will need multiple approaches. An art museum has a very different traffic patterns than a theatre with densely packed seats and a set curtain time. Of course, these organizations cannot do it alone. Being open does not necessarily mean that people will visit if they don't feel safe in crowds.

An important observation that should drive all of our efforts is the need to ensure that there aren't winners and losers in our industry. Help must be equitable, and that will require better data, as opposed to stronger voices winning the day. We cannot forget the smaller organizations and efforts that represent smaller subsets and diverse cultures in Canada.

Instead of an either-or, we should strive for a “both and more” strategy where all organizations have a path to survival. We would like to enter into a formal process with Canadian Heritage and other partners so that the sector may better understand and exert more agency in how support is meted out. We want to be active partners in navigating towards a shared vision of the future, not simply recipients of aid.

We are at a strategic inflection point in our history. We need to seize the opportunity before it passes and we revert to our old habits. Arts and culture are vitally important to Canada. Despite the tragic dimensions, today represents a rare opportunity for us to remind Canadians of our proud identities and heritage, in particular the tenaciousness and optimism that unite us all. The arts will amplify every industry and boost national pride. The arts tell our stories, and emerging from this crisis we need to be uplifted, inspired and given hope. This is exactly what the country is crying out for. With so much fear, uncertainty and disconnection, we need trust, reunion and hope.

I thank you again for the opportunity to make these comments. I invite your questions.

5:35 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Mr. Keast.

We'll turn now to Ms. Baldwin, executive director of Pillar Nonprofit Network.

Ms. Baldwin.

5:40 p.m.

Michelle Baldwin

Thank you for the opportunity to illustrate the urgent need to support non-profits, charities and social enterprises, because none of us can afford the collapse of this sector. We need it now and after. I want to acknowledge our MP, Peter Fragiskatos, London North Centre, for his support of our sector.

Pillar Nonprofit Network is a regional network in southwestern Ontario that supports more than 610 members including individuals, organizations and enterprises. We operate a 32,000-square-foot shared space in London, Ontario called Innovation Works and we invest $4 million in our region through our social finance program, Verge Capital. I'm also the board chair of the Ontario Nonprofit Network.

Our work at Pillar is driven by the belief that having the three pillars of non-profit, business and government working together is essential for our communities to thrive. We believe in the collective power of networks and the federal government as a key partner within this network. We need you; you need us.

Non-profits, charities and social enterprises are uniquely positioned to be invaluable partners for government to develop programs, services and policies that incorporate diverse perspectives and are responsive to community needs. Their significance has been amplified by the extraordinary resilience and adaptability they have shown in response to COVID-19. That said, there's a harsh reality we're now facing in the non-profit sector. Organizations have had to lay off staff and temporarily suspend operations. Across Canada, an estimated 117,000 to 194,000 people have been laid off. Revenues are declining quickly, as you heard from Imagine Canada, which projected financial losses of $9.5 billion to $16 billion for registered charities alone. Demand for services has, in many cases, increased even for organizations that are not on the front line.

In addition to measures needed to respond to COVID-19, there are many other issues that are being exacerbated by the pandemic: homelessness and housing, addictions and mental health, violence against women and children, and other health issues not treated. We must work to limit and prevent the downstream costs from the deterioration of health and well-being caused by this pandemic. Take, for example, a local board I serve on, Atlohsa Family Healing Services, that supports indigenous-led programming, including a women's shelter and resting spaces that have seen an increase in demand for services. We anticipate even greater demand once we come through this crisis.

To date, the federal government has invested a great deal in helping individuals, businesses and organizations. Regrettably, many non-profits, charities and social enterprises simply do not qualify for some of the economic response measures. Fifty per cent of our sector does not have paid staff, but their finances are still taking a hit. Many sports leagues are fuelled by volunteers, but they contribute to the economy and to our health and well-being. We appreciate the investments that have been made in organizations providing front-line services for the most vulnerable people and communities, but these measures are not sufficient if we want to maintain vital social infrastructure across the country, including arts, culture, sports and faith.

Sunfest, a cultural music festival that attracts 225,000 attendees annually and our Home County Music and Art Festival have both cancelled their summer events. This is a $6-million loss in revenue for local businesses. In addition, organizations that may fall through the gaps of the already announced funding include many non-profit social enterprises, including YMCAs, Habitat for Humanity ReStores, as well as courier services, catering and child care. These non-profits rely on earned income to supplement government funding streams. In fact, 45% of revenue for the core charitable sector is from earned revenue. They are suffering the loss of sales of their goods and services just as small businesses are. Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes has had to lay off 850 staff, many of whom already face barriers, and the organization has seen the loss of $125,000 per day. That represents 90% of its funding.

A broad fund for the sector would alleviate the challenges I've outlined today. That is why we, along with the thousands of organizations and people you have heard from, are supporting the sector resilience grant program proposal submitted by Imagine Canada. It will manage the multiple requests from various sectors. It will save the government time, including the time spent by staff and elected officials with each subsector. It will save the government money in the long run.

We estimate that around $6 billion in emergency funding is still urgently needed. This number was not brought forward lightly. It illustrates that our sector is a significant economic and social driver in this country. Most importantly, the cost of doing nothing is even greater. Canadians have spent generations building a sector that delivers services more efficiently and effectively than government, provides good jobs in every community, addresses equity and inclusion and contributes enormously to our quality of life.

Take a moment to imagine your community without support for people with disabilities and mental health issues, without shelters, without organizations rallying for the eradication of diseases, without supports for those new to Canada and seniors, without places of worship, without amateur sports and community centres, without community theatres, festivals, and museums and so much more. It would take years and far greater investments to rebuild this sector than it will take to preserve it today.

While you consider our proposal, I ask you to pause to imagine the organizations you personally support and engage with. Pause to imagine if they no longer existed. Every single person in this country benefits from this vital sector. We cannot afford to let it collapse. This is the moment for your support.

Thank you for listening. I am happy to answer any of your questions.

5:45 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Michelle.

Before I go to our next witness, I'll give you the lineup for questions, so that MPs will know where they are on the list. First up will be Mr. Waugh, then Ms. Dzerowicz, Mr. Brunelle-Duceppe and Mr. Julian.

Turning to The Royal Conservatory of Music, we have Mr. Peter Simon, president and CEO.

Welcome, Peter.

5:45 p.m.

Peter Simon President and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Conservatory of Music

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and also to the members of the committee, for allowing us to be here.

I'm the president of the Royal Conservatory of Music. It's an iconic Canadian cultural organization that I think many of you will know because either you or a friend or someone in your family took music lessons or examinations. We have about four million-plus alumni.

I want to inform the committee of the impact of COVID-19 on the Royal Conservatory but also on Canada's music education sector, and to make the case for government assistance to prevent what might be lasting damage to the essential infrastructure in our nation for music education.

The study of music is important, because it offers an avenue for our children not only to unlock their imaginations and to be introduced to the world of creativity and self-expression, but through the habit of deliberate practice daily, to develop the qualities of discipline, focus and concentration, which are essential to success in all fields.

The conservatory provides the educational systems and infrastructure for 30,000 independent teachers, who teach over half a million students in Canada and represent a billion-dollar sector. We are the engine that makes these developments possible. When you listen to music played by Canadians, chances are you are listening to an alumnus of the Royal Conservatory. Whether it's Glenn Gould or Oscar Peterson or Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Shaffer, Diana Krall, David Foster, Burton Cummings, etc., those are just a few of the people in the music industry from the conservatory.

The conservatory's capacity to provide extensive cultural opportunities at the grassroots level is supported by our work in other areas, whether it's online teaching or the Glenn Gould School, which provides our most gifted young people with an opportunity to receive training at an international standard. Koerner Hall is a national cultural asset. It's described by many of the world's greatest artists, including superstar pianist Lang Lang, as probably the finest concert hall in the world today. It is also a platform for many Canadian artists and international artists.

Ultimately it's the breadth of the impact of our programs on all Canadians in every community that is really important. Today, after decades of steep cuts to music and arts programs in public schools across Canada, the educational infrastructure created by the Royal Conservatory and its network of community-based teachers has never been more needed than it is today. However, the current crisis threatens to undermine this nationally important infrastructure.

Recently we surveyed 2,500 independent music teachers and found that, on average, half of their studio was gone and half of their income was gone. The median teacher now earns between $1,000 and $2,000 a month, which is below the cut-off for CERB, but certainly not a living wage. Many teachers rightly fear for their future.

The conservatory itself must generate 95% of its budget from earned revenues and contributions. Government support for us represents less than 5% of our budget. We face a cash operating shortfall of $5.3 million through to August 31. The shortfall is a result of total revenue loss of $9.2 million, which we have reduced through expense cuts of almost $4 million.

We have applied to the Canada emergency wage subsidy program. However, we project that we will still be short by $4.1 million of what we need to survive and to keep our core programs going.

Our board of directors has committed to funding half of this amount, in the hope that matching support from the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario will be in place. We're seeking an investment from the Government of Canada of $1.1 million to help us sustain our core programs through to August 31. We also urge the Government of Canada to consider a means to providing income support, through CERB, to the country's 30,000 independent music teachers. In the absence of some degree of income support, many will be forced out of music education. I think this would lower the quality of life dramatically in many communities and weaken one of the key pillars of cultural leadership in our nation.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.

5:50 p.m.


Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

You're on mute, Mr. Chair.

5:50 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

There we go. I hit “video”. Oh, what a system.

Okay. We'll go back to Mr. Roy, who is with Festivals and Major Events Canada.

Are you there, Martin?

5:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Festivals and Major Events Canada

Martin Roy

Yes. It seems that the problem is with Apple. I'm now using a [Technical difficulty—Editor] PC. I just managed to switch. [Technical difficulty—Editor] I'm going to go ahead in French.

Good evening, members of the Standing Committee on Finance.

Festivals and Major Events Canada, also known by its acronym FAME, has more than 500 members across the country, both direct and affiliated members, of all sizes and in nine provinces. FAME works closely with REMI, the Regroupement des événements majeurs internationaux, which, in Quebec, brings together some 30 major events.

Because they are both extremely social and extremely seasonal, because they have one foot in tourism and the other in culture, these events are in the eye of the storm.

The reality is that festivals and events spend year-round but generate revenue from activities that last only 3 to 10 days a year. Over 80% of this revenue disappears when events are cancelled for public health reasons. Depending on the location in Canada, this leaves 10% to 20% of the revenue, consisting of grants from cities, provinces and the federal government.

This was in fact the first request put forward by REMI and FAME, which asked all levels of government to maintain their grants, even if events were cancelled, so that they could cover some of the expenses already incurred since last fall, in salaries, for example. For the most part, this has been promised, not only by the Department of Canadian Heritage, but also by Ontario and Quebec, and we are pleased with that.

Our second request concerns the emergency wage subsidy. For many festivals, it will be difficult to demonstrate a 15% to 30% drop in revenues over the identified period if they are generally non-existent at that time, but it will be very easy to demonstrate one in the order of 80% or 90% for another period. A great deal of flexibility will therefore be required in that regard; failing this, another way will have to be found to maintain the teams and expertise in place, with the help of Canadian Heritage, unless a fourth reference period is added for June, a fifth for July, and so on until September.

Also, we know that the subsidies will not cover all the costs already incurred and the costs related to the cancellation. Most festivals and events will run a deficit this year. The size of the deficit will depend on the size of their budget, but also on when organizers made the decision to cancel their events, or when they were asked to make that decision in certain cities or provinces.

Considering that the organizations are non-profit, without provision or capitalization, their survival is at stake. The crisis could lead to the disappearance of many festivals and events.

If the sales of all festivals and events in Canada represent between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, a deficit on the order of 10% will require loans or grants of between $150 million and $200 million. That is why we are asking for financial assistance, as are other sectors of the economy. That is our third request.

Every day we see event cancellations, from the Calgary Stampede to the Quebec City Summer Festival to the Ottawa Bluesfest, that make headlines, cause great sadness among festival-goers and cause consternation among hotels, restaurants and many other businesses, which normally rely on festivals and events for a large part of their annual sales. This is to be expected, since a third of festival-goers' spending goes to restaurants and a quarter to hotels.

We will have to focus on festivals and events in the post-crisis period. This will allow their revival, of course, but also their participation in what will be called “social healing”. It will also help get these economic and tourism engines back on track, with all the benefits that this will bring to a host of other players revolving around the events, including, of course, the artists themselves, in a myriad of disciplines. This is our fourth and final request.

In this regard, we submitted the example of the Marquee Tourism Events Program, or MTEP, which, after the 2008 crisis, injected close to $100 million over two years into events and is still positively evaluated on the Canadian government site today. We believe that a new version of this program, an “MTEP 2.0”, can be designed and we are obviously willing to participate in its development.

If we moved quickly on this issue, with a relaunch in 12 or 18 months in mind, we would have enough time to ensure that the effect of this investment is maximized, while keeping the teams in place.

In the meantime, we'll be working on two projects. One is to imagine events that can be put on next year in compliance with public health directives, and the other is to make innovative additions to the programming, all in the hope of making our industry a little more COVID-19-proof.

Thank you.

5:55 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much.

I certainly thank all of the witnesses for those in-depth presentations that crossed quite a lot of sectors. I will say, before we go to questions, that as the finance committee we hold pre-budget hearings across the country. We hear from many, many different sectors. But from the 150 or so witnesses we've now heard from on COVID-19 in the last couple of weeks, I think we've gotten a real lesson from all of the diverse components of the economy and how each and every one of them matters.

We'll turn to Mr. Waugh now, and then Ms. Dzerowicz. It will be a six-minute round for the first four. We'll have to stick very tightly to the six minutes.

Mr. Waugh.

5:55 p.m.


Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, everyone, on day 52 of COVID-19. It gives me great pleasure to be on the finance committee for this special meeting. I actually sit on the heritage committee, and have for years. I'm back on it again this year. I want to wish all the arts, culture and sports organizations all the best as we move forward. This is an unprecedented time, I know, for all eight of you. How we come out of this will be the big story.

For full disclosure, I spent 40 years as a sports broadcaster at CTV Saskatoon. I covered the Saskatchewan Roughriders for decades. I was involved in the early 1970s when the club was nearly bankrupt, and took part in many telethons to keep the team floating. In 2015 I became a member of Parliament for Saskatoon—Grasswood. Obviously, my first set of questions will go to the CFL commissioner, Randy Ambrosie.

Thank you, Randy, for testifying today in front of the finance committee. Unfortunately, some of your comments today had a lot of holes in them. First of all, is it a bailout or a loan that you're asking for from the Government of Canada in terms of the first $30 million?

May 7th, 2020 / 6 p.m.

Commissioner, Canadian Football League

Randy Ambrosie

Mr. Waugh, thank you very much. The answer to your question is that we're really looking for a partnership with government. We're really anxious to sit down and talk. I should say, by the way, that we've had great conversations with your colleagues and various ministries. What we really want to do is sit down and talk about a way to work together so that we get through the crisis.

Our fundamental position is that we are looking for financial support that we want to pay back to Canadians. If it's in the form of a loan, perhaps we will pay back some of that loan through programs. I think we're almost legendary there. Our players are legendary for their ability to be in the communities and make a difference in the lives of children and young adults. There's our work in the northern communities.

Essentially, we want to sit down with government and build a partnership, one that will make sure that we are responsible Canadians to Canadians. We don't want to stand in front of other Canadians who have serious needs. We're really looking for a business relationship—

6 p.m.


Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Yes, I take that.