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The Standing Committee on Finance Report and the Arts

CCA Bulletin 34/11

Just the facts

The Standing Committee on Finance presented this week a report on its pan-Canadian consultations. The Canadian Conference of the Arts was the first of five cultural organizations[1] to appear before the Committee. This report comprises 53 proposals targeting four areas: federal finances, businesses, communities and individuals.

In the introduction, the Committee describes arts and culture as one of the factors contributing to the strength of a community. Additionally, three pages out of this 77-page report are dedicated to arts and culture, thereby placing the sector on par with the principal players in the Canadian economy. This chapter presents a very good summary of the presentations made by witnesses but, unfortunately, the Committee’s report did not take up any of the recommendations put forward by the CCA and other witnesses.

Coincident with the issuance of this report, the Committee announced that a study on charitable giving in Canada will be launched when Parliament returns at the end of January. This study will be of great interest to several of the 6,600 or so Canadian arts organizations with not-for-profit status. This is particularly so at a time when cuts of 10% are anticipated to impact budgets for Canada Arts Council, Canadian Heritage and agencies and corporations attached to the Ministry. Those who wish to submit a brief to the Committee on the topic of tax incentives for charitable giving should do so no later than noon on Tuesday, January 17, 2012. Briefs should be no longer than five pages in length and may be published by the House of Commons on the Committee’s Web site.

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In its minority report, the Official Opposition (NDP) dedicates only one paragraph to culture.

Strengthen Arts and Culture: According to the Conference Board of Canada, for every $1 of real value added GDP produced by Canada’s cultural industries, roughly $1.84 is added to the overall real GDP. The Federal government should establish a tax credit program to stimulate production of the arts and maintain funding of CBC/Radio-Canada at the 2010 level ($1.1 billion) and index it annually to inflation.

The Liberal Party of Canada makes no mention of arts or culture in its supplementary opinion.

We have examined certain of the report’s recommendations in order to identify possible actions.

In the section on tax reform, the report includes a paragraph stating the CCA’s request for income averaging but omits any such recommendation. However, it might be possible to relaunch the debate if the following recommendation is retained:

That the federal government convene an expert panel to review, modernize and simplify the federal corporate tax system.

Another proposal is  worthy of attention: “that the federal government continue to open up new markets to Canadian goods and services by working toward the completion of trading agreements with foreign governments, and also working to eliminate trade barriers involving the US-Canada border.” Unfortunately, the Committee is mute on the CCA’s proposal to dedicate, as soon as possible, $40 million to the development of internal and foreign markets for our artists, creators and cultural industries.

The CCA will follow the progress of this last proposal that could relate to the opening of the telecommunications or publishing markets to foreign ownership. It is certain that the government maintains its desire to undertake free-trade negotiations with several countries and regions of the world, with the European Union and Asia-Pacific region being particularly targeted.

 


[1] Independent Media Arts Alliance, Mouvement pour les arts et les lettres, Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, New Brunswick Arts Board, Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec.