Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the committee, I am very pleased to speak following upon the comments made by my colleague the Honourable Maryam Monsef.
I am speaking to you from Gatineau, on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people. I am delighted to join you virtually, to see you all, each of us in different corners of our beautiful country. I wish to recognize the important and essential work that you all are doing, even in the current circumstances, to continue the important work of Parliament and the committees.
We are all doing our best to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is important that we join forces and work together for the benefit of Canadian society. This of course includes culture, heritage and sport. Organizations in these three sectors are a vital part of the social fabric of our communities. They generate solidarity, and promote social integration and tolerance. They are also major drivers of the Canadian economy. The cultural sector alone contributes approximately $53 billion to Canada’s GDP, and the sport sector contributes $6.6 billion. Not to mention the 500,000 jobs they create, the visitors they attract, their international visibility, their reputation for excellence, and, quite simply, the pleasure they give us.
To quote the Prime Minister:
Since the beginning of this crisis, artists have brought us comfort, laughter, and happiness. Athletes have continued to inspire us, encourage us, and make us proud. Those who work in the arts, culture, and sports sectors allow us to live their passion and make us dream. And these days, when we are all at home, isolating, they help us feel a little less alone. These are just a few of the reasons why we must be there for them like they are there for us.
Today, with you, I would like, first, to summarize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on arts, culture, heritage and sports; review the measures our government has taken to support these sectors; and give you an overview of our approach, which is intended to provide quick and flexible assistance to these sectors in the coming weeks.
We are collectively facing the biggest crisis in our history, and organizations and workers in the arts, culture and sports sectors were among the first to be affected. Several factors have increased the pressure on them: the ban on gatherings; the unexpected cancellation of cultural and sports activities; the closure of museums and facilities; the uncertainty that has gripped Canadian and international subscribers and sponsors; and the lack of opportunities to train and qualify for athletic competitions. All of this has added to the pressure on our artists and athletes.
These sectors that we are talking about depend on their connection with the public. From the day containment measures were announced, these sectors have demonstrated exemplary solidarity and creativity, but without a stage, an auditorium, an audience, a season, tours, they cannot survive. If the situation persists, we can expect Canada’s creative industry to face increasing and significant financial pressure. Over one month, losses were estimated at $4.4 billion and about 26,000 jobs. Over three months, they are estimated at $13.2 billion and about 81,000 jobs.
Many organizations will be able to recover from these losses thanks to the measures already announced by our government, including the Canada emergency response benefit, the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the business credit availability program, and the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance for small businesses, intended for small businesses and organizations. We also ensured that these measures, which apply to Canadian society as a whole, would be useful to SMEs and non-profit organizations, many of which work in the fields of culture, heritage and sport.
We have also worked hard to free up funds quickly and adapt to the realities of each line of business.
We announced the accelerated processing of funding applications to the Canada book fund and the Canada periodical fund, and we confirmed that income from royalties would not be a barrier for artists and creators seeking eligibility for the emergency response benefit. The Canada Council for the Arts will provide $60 million in advance funding to help its beneficiaries to meet their immediate commitments.
The federal government has paid for Part I of the CRTC licence fees for the 2020-21 fiscal year, providing immediate financial relief of $30 million. In addition, an independent panel of experts is set to make recommendations to the Canada Revenue Agency on the implementation of tax measures for print journalism, and we have made several adjustments to those measures to better meet the needs of the publishing and journalism communities.
Finally, the vast majority of the $30 million invested by our government in a national COVID-19 awareness campaign will be invested in Canadian media: in television, radio, newspapers and magazines, and digital media. All of these measures will provide our cultural, heritage and sports organizations with a breath of fresh air.
That said, we recognize that some of them may not be in a position to benefit from the measures already announced, for all kinds of reasons; for example, they tend to be characterized by cyclical revenues, high self-employment and contract work, and barriers to accessing credit. For others, these measures are not sufficient to allow them to cope with the current crisis.
That is why, on April 17, 2020, the Prime Minister announced $500 million in funding to establish a new COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations. This fund is meant to complement the measures already announced and to strengthen our safety net, which, I am sure you will agree, I have shown is needed now more than ever.
Last Friday, I announced how this new emergency fund will be rolled out. The fund will be distributed in two phases in order to meet the financial needs of affected organizations, maintain jobs and support business continuity. Canadian Heritage will divide the funding among select departmental programs and in collaboration with several partners. The breakdown of the funding has been presented.
Here is a summary. Over $198 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding through existing programs; $72 million will be provided to the sport sector; $53 million will be provided to the heritage sector through the emergency component of the museums assistance program; $3.5 million will be distributed under the digital citizen initiative to help combat false and misleading COVID-19 information, as well as the racism and stigmatization that are often the result; $55 million will be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts; and over $115 million will be distributed by the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada to support the audiovisual sector.
The use of the remaining funds will be based on needs. The rollout is already under way. Our program officers are in touch with organizations through the usual communication channels.
We will proceed in two phases. In phase one, eligible recipients will not have to apply for funding. We will use the most recent applications submitted to the program as a basis for topping up funding. Existing recipients of targeted Canadian Heritage programs will be asked to fill out an attestation. Once the attestation has been received and reviewed, the funding will flow shortly thereafter.
Phase two of the program will focus on eligible organizations with heritage collections, and other organizations that, for example, do not currently receive funding from Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada or the Canada Media Fund.
The second phase will provide temporary support as follows: funding for eligible organizations with heritage collections through the emergency component of the museums assistance program; and funding for other organizations, some of which do not currently receive funding from Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund. Further details on phase two will be announced over the coming weeks.
We want to find ways to broaden our support. Culture, heritage and sport are at the very heart of our plan. The challenge is to ensure that as many organizations as possible survive the crisis so that Canada’s cultural, heritage and sport ecosystems remain intact. This is essential to the recovery we all want for our creators, artists, curators, athletes and coaches; for our society; for our economy; and ultimately, for each and every one of us.
Thank you, Madam Chair.