moved that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, imagine a day without art and culture: no music, no movies, no television or books. It would be really boring. This is why I am so happy to speak today about Bill C-11, the online streaming act. This legislation will update Canada's broadcasting rules to include online streaming services and will require them to contribute in an equitable way to our culture.
This is the first of a few pieces of legislation that are part of my mandate as Minister of Canadian Heritage. The bills are with respect to online streaming, online news and online safety. All three will work together to make the Internet a fairer, more inclusive, safer and more competitive place for Canadians.
When the Internet came along, we all thought that it was great and wonderful, that we would let it develop on its own, that we would not get involved at all, and that it would create new opportunities, strengthen democracy and connect people.
That is true. The Internet has connected so many people and has had and continues to have so many positive impacts. The Internet is a true vector of change, but it is also responsible for an increase in polarization and misinformation. When it comes to culture, for example, the Internet has completely changed the way we produce and consume cultural goods.
What is more, unfortunately, anyone, particularly young people, can easily be exposed to completely unacceptable online content, such as content promoting hatred online, child exploitation and bullying. We all have a role to play, including the platforms that dominate the Internet and take up so much space in our daily lives.
We need to take action to address these issues now. If not, they will continue to harm Canadians, chip away our cultural sovereignty and weaken our digital society. This is about making the Internet a better place for all Canadians.
How are we going to do this? It starts with this bill, the online streaming act. It starts with making sure that online streamers contribute to the strength and vitality of Canada's cultural sector. Let us remember Canada's strong culture is no accident. We made that decision. We decided and we chose to be different. We chose to be different from our neighbours to the south. We chose cultural sovereignty.
We are reminded of this every day, especially yesterday on National Flag of Canada Day. When we chose the maple leaf as our flag, we were choosing a symbol of our national identity, a symbol that is distinct and set us apart from the cultural superpower to the south. After 57 years, the maple leaf is the most widely recognized Canadian emblem in the world. To each and every one of us, it is a symbol of a Canada, a country, made by all of us together.
Our culture is all of us. I say that often. It is our past, present and future. It is how we talk to one another and how we tell our stories.
For more than 50 years, the Broadcasting Act has helped us share our stories. That is how we built a strong Canadian culture. That is how we forged our Canadian identity, and that is how we brought Canadian voices to the world. We want to build on this for the future. We must recognize that times have changed.
The last time our system was updated was in 1991, and the world was a very different place. People were going to Blockbuster Video to rent movies. I am sure you used to go there yourself, Mr. Speaker. We all went to Blockbuster to rent VHS tapes and paid a fee when we brought them back late. We had Walkmans. That is how we used to listen to music.
So much has changed in the last 30 years. Online content delivery has changed how we create, discover and consume content, and the system in place today needs to reflect this.
Canadian broadcasters have been investing in the system for decades to create the content we love, so it is only fair that online broadcasters be asked to contribute. We are only asking them to do their part, nothing more, which is fair.
Companies like Netflix, Amazon and Disney, to name a few, are already investing in the Canadian economy, which is great. We all benefit from that. Some of their content is really entertaining. This means money for and significant investments in our country. We are very pleased that they continue to invest here and pursue their projects in Canada.
Let us be honest, though. There is another reason why they are investing in Canada. It is because we have incredible talent here, including directors, actors and technicians. We have amazing talent, by any measure, so it makes good business sense to come and invest in Canada.
Basically, what Bill C-11 does is it updates the rules so that all broadcasting platforms contribute to our culture. That is all. That is what the bill is all about.
The online streaming act would bring online broadcasters under similar rules and requirements as our traditional broadcasters. Unlike traditional Canadian broadcasters, platforms profit from our culture but have no obligation to contribute to it. With money leaving traditional broadcasters, day after day, to go to these platforms, this is putting our creators, our industry, our jobs and even our culture at risk. We have to act.
Our system must also pave the way for new and upcoming Canadian artists. There is so much talent in this country. For decades, our current system introduced us to the incredible artists that we all love, many of them now share their art around the world. They are known everywhere. There are so many talents. I am thinking of Anne of Green Gables, The Tragically Hip, C.R.A.Z.Y., Drake, Charlotte Cardin, Lara Fabian, Shawn Mendes, District 31 and Schitt's Creek.
I could name so many other success stories from television, film and the music business.
We want to make sure that our children as well as future generations grow up as we did, having the chance to watch our stories and to listen to our songs.
Culture is an extremely powerful and foundational form of expression. It enables us to share moments, feelings and dreams. It enables us to forge a shared identity. Its scope and influence are greater than ever.
People need their culture to reflect who they are. For example, as francophones, we depend on culture to preserve our language. If we want our children to speak our language, we need to keep our culture strong. To do that, we need a system that is both just and fair.
Indigenous peoples are counting on it too. Diversity and inclusion are Canadian values and they must be key elements of our cultural policy. This is a key pillar of the online streaming act. Racialized Canadians, women, LGBTQ2+ persons and persons with disabilities deserve to have a space to tell their stories to other Canadians but also to the world.
This bill claims that space and makes sure that online streaming platforms contribute to Canadian culture, to our culture.
Currently, our Canadian broadcasters have to follow a set of rules, but streaming platforms follow a different set of rules. It should be the same for everyone, and that is exactly what we are going to do with the online streaming act. Anyone who makes money from the system has to contribute to it.
It is true that in the previous Parliament there were many important debates about the role of social media in supporting Canadian artists and culture. That is why we listened to the concerns around social media and we fixed it.
In response to this debate, Bill C-11 clearly outlines that the regulator would have no power to regulate the everyday use of social media by Canadians. Let me be clear. We will not regulate users or online creators through the bill or our policy, nor digital-first creators, nor influencers, nor users. Only the online streaming companies themselves would have new responsibilities under this act. That is our goal and we will achieve that goal.
How will we do this? Our new approach to social media responds to concerns about freedom of expression. At the same time, it takes into account that music is largely broadcast online. That is why this bill includes very important updates that would only focus on relevant types of commercial content. In fact, a study conducted by Media Technology Monitor in 2020 found that about two-thirds of Canadian adults use YouTube to listen to music, which outpaces dedicated music services such as Apple Music and Spotify.
The proposed amendments in the online streaming act regarding social media would not apply to content uploaded by users or to the users themselves. They would only apply to commercial content based on specific criteria defined in the bill. This responds to the needs of music stakeholders who stated that platforms that broadcast commercial music must contribute to the system. This is a creative way of doing this. We are defining the sandbox for the regulator in the law. There is a sand box there. This is a compromise, an effort in good faith, by the government.
I met with many social media content creators, including YouTubers and other digital-first creators, and I heard their concerns. It was a great conversation. They are amazing. They are all over the world and they are incredible and creative. I heard them very clearly and will continue to listen to them. These creators share incredible content with audiences here in Canada, but also, as I said, around the world. This bill is not about them. It would not require them to do anything new. It would not change anything for them.
If I have not been crystal clear on this yet, let me add that once this bill has gone through the parliamentary process and received royal assent, we will make it even more clear to the regulator, through a policy directive, that this legislation does not touch users, only online streaming platforms. Platforms are in; users are out.
Once again, I want to be extremely clear. This law will never control what Canadians can or cannot see online. We will always be able to choose what we listen to and what we watch. Users are not broadcasters. The content will not be regulated and an individual online creators' content will not be regulated. Again, the principle is simple: Platforms are in; users are out.
Our goal of updating our system has not changed. The system needs updating because 1991 was a long time ago.
As a country, we made the choice decades ago to protect our cultural identity so our artists and creators would always have a place on our airwaves to showcase their work here at home and around the world. That is why one of the conditions for obtaining a broadcasting licence is investing in and promoting Canadian content.
Our goal here, as we have said many times, is to ensure that everyone contributes to Canadian culture and puts our music, our TV shows and our films on the map. That goal has not changed. What has changed is the medium, the market and other things. It is time to adapt. It is not 1991 anymore.
Since the last major reform in 1991, the system has served Canadians well by creating a distinct space for our culture. Thanks to this system, generations of Canadians have grown up listening to Canadian music on the radio and watching Canadian movies on television, and generations of artists have been able to showcase their art and touch the lives of many Canadians. Now that the Internet has opened the door to new cultural connections, we want Canada's cultural success to continue, expand and accelerate. Never before has this been so necessary. I would say that it is now or never.
We have said it, we have seen it and we have lived it: COVID-19 accelerated our transition to the online world, and I am certain that applies to everyone. Physical distancing has pushed Canadians toward online platforms and streaming services. Canadians are communicating with their friends and families online, and millions of people are teleworking. Students, including my daughter, are taking their courses online, and in these difficult times, many of us have found an escape in streaming online music, television shows and movies.
Canadian artists and creators are facing many pandemic-related challenges that have severely limited their revenue streams for almost two years. An unbalanced system with unequal obligations is only making this situation worse for our artists, our creators and our culture. With fewer resources, fewer opportunities and fewer productions, Canadian music and stories will become harder and harder to find, and that is not what we want. We want the opposite. Without intervention, current trends in the market are expected to result in a decline in the production of Canadian television content of almost $1 billion by 2023 when compared with 2018. This is only a measure of the economic loss. The truth is that our cultural identity is at stake.
A distinct space lets us speak to and understand one another, build our own Canadian identity, and work together to find solutions for national issues. As our space erodes, our ties dissolve, and our stories, values and perspectives fade, there is a problem, and doing nothing is not an option.
We have taken action and will continue to do so to protect our culture, our jobs, our creators and the voice of Canadians.
The online streaming act will make a direct contribution to the vitality of Canadian culture. We just want online streamers to do their fair share, no more, no less, to fund, create, produce and distribute Canadian content. The act will ensure the future of Canadian broadcasting, as well as promote and protect our cultural sovereignty.
This legislation is the result of years of hard work and consultation on the part of Canadians, industry, stakeholders and parliamentarians, and I want to thank them for their thoughtful insights and hard work. As we start the debate on this very important piece of legislation, let us remember that at the end of the day, this is about updating our system to reflect today's digital reality.
Things have changed and streaming platforms are the new big players. This bill would make sure that everyone contributes in a similar and equitable way to our culture. The objectives of our cultural policy and broadcast system have not changed. This is about fairness and good middle-class jobs in the cultural sector. It is about having the power to shape our culture and making sure that everyone can see themselves in our culture. It is about being proud of who we are, being proud of being Canadian.