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What are Canadian Heritage’s priorities for 2012-2013?

CCA Bulletin 09/12

May 28, 2012

The Canadian Conference of the arts is hard at work on our detailed federal budget analysis from the perspective of the arts, culture, and heritage for 2012-2013. For a number of reasons the task is particularly complicated this year. Normally the report on the plans and priorities of the Heritage Department is published around the same time as the federal budget however, this year it was published several weeks after the budget and after the cuts were announced. To complicate things further, last February the departments received a directive from the Treasury Department to not include the cuts in their annual reports. Therefore the report on Plans and Priorities doesn’t include the cuts announced following the March 29th, 2012 budget. Instead it includes some budget cuts from 2007-2010 such as the freeze in 2010. It’s only as specific decisions come out that we are discovering the real impacts of the government’s decisions, since even where budgets are protected, there is no indication that the priorities haven’t changed.

The CCA’s budget analysis therefore risks being pushed back to the early fall in order to present a more accurate portrait of the situation and to have the time to shed some light on this collection of information. Especially since this year, we are planning for the first time to enrich our analysis by including analyses of the provincial and territorial budgets. This project is already in progress with our partners at the Political Science department at the University of Ottawa.

As its name indicates, the document we are analysing today details the principal priorities of Canadian Heritage (PCH) according to their strategic outcomes, program activities and anticipated or expected results, in addition to providing data on human resource requirements, major capital projects, grants and contributions, and net program costs. As such, the Report reflects the Department’s intentions to act in key areas and it presents an exhaustive examination of the priorities, the architecture of the program, and their management structures.

In the Department’s message this year, Minister Moore mentions wanting to take full advantage of digital technologies, invest in our communities, celebrate our history and heritage, and use taxpayers’ money responsibly. Both before and after the budget, the minister has insisted on the economic impact of culture, “…arts and culture play a key role in the lives of Canadians, and they contribute as much to our quality of life as to our economy. By supporting Canadian culture, we ensure the growth of our economy. The creative sector fosters innovation and provides Canada with a competitive advantage in the international digital economy.”

Digital technology is a pet subject of the Heritage Minister, who encourages innovation in this area. The Minister is betting that digital technology will allow substantial savings in efficiency. He has also mentioned on several occasions including in an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos and in news articles, that certain agencies such as Telefilm, the NFB and Library and Archives can make savings because of digital technologies and that the services to the public won’t be noticeably affected. We should mention that the opinions are somewhat divided on that last statement.

The Department’s main objectives

The Department’s activities revolve around 3 main strategic objectives which have been in place since Minister Moore’s arrival at Canadian Heritage:

1.  Artistic expressions and Canadian cultural content are created and accessible at home and abroad.

2.  Canadians share, express and appreciate their Canadian identity.

3.  Canadians participate in and excel at sports.

These three strategic objectives guide the Department’s four operational objectives.

1.  Take full advantage of digital technologies;

2.  Celebrate our heritage and history;

3.  Invest in our communities;

4.  Ensure financial sustainability and excellence in service delivery.

Strategic Outcomes

We will cover only the programs related directly to the arts, culture, and heritage, and we will do this cautiously. The budget numbers included in the document do not reflect those that were tabled with the budget, and the budget doesn’t reflect the numbers of the Main Estimates! Therefore we will only discuss the main outlined priorities without focusing on the budget. The complete analysis of the budget will be published in the fall.

 1.    Artistic expressions and Canadian cultural content are created and accessible at home and abroad.

 a.    Program activity: ARTS

The Department seems to want to give priority to investing in arts organizations that encourage partnerships with businesses and other local organizations to diversify their financial resources. In addition the Department includes infrastructure investments for the 150th anniversary celebrations as part of this activity (such as the visitors centre at Fort York.)

b.    Program activity: CULTURAL INDUSTRIES

Among the priorities for this objective, the Department will modernise the Copyright Act and expects to pursue treaty negotiations on audiovisual co-productions. We know that the Copyright Bill should be adopted by the Senate before the end of June. As for audiovisual co-production treaties, negotiations resumed in 2011 after several years of interruptions. New developments are expected in this area, notably with India, one of the countries covered by a coproduction agreement with Canada which we have been talking about for years. Still in the film sector, the Department wants to review feature film policies to adapt them to the digital environment. It will consist of an internal process which the CCA will talk more about in the fall.

In the book sector, the Department also wants to “modernize policy on foreign investment for the book industry so that it reflects and responds to a changing marketplace.” Some of you may recall that in 2010, the Department began a consultation process long since completed, but no policy has yet come out of it. It’s no secret that it’s a delicate subject in both the anglophone and francophone markets. In Quebec, Bill 51 adopted 30 years ago has supported better dissemination of Quebecois literature and an increase in the accessibility of books by putting in place new commercial practices in the sector. Opening up to foreign investments in this area could fuel conflicts between the federal and provincial governments. In the English language market, foreign investment in the book sector is a very delicate subject affected by different realities. The distribution markets, publishing, and retail are different and require different regulations. How will the government reconcile these differing interests? It’s a file to follow.

c.    Program activity: HERITAGE

Under this heading, the Department aims to “enact measures to improve the preservation and presentation of the history and heritage of Canada:

  • Contribute to the preservation of rare and precious artifacts and help clients to exhibit and present these objects over the course of coming historic anniversaries;
  • Complete the analysis of the  Cultural Property Export and Import Act to identify necessary changes to ensure its effectiveness in protecting Canada’s heritage;
  • Chart the services of the Canadian Conservation Institute in order to assure that they are meeting the conservation and preservation needs of Canada’s heritage institutions;
  • Continue to work together with large museums across the country in order to give Canadians better access to the international and Canadian treasures by means of the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program;
  • Identify and undertake multiplatform projects that will allow Canadians to have better access to digital heritage content on the devices of their choice;
  • Update the Community Memories Program software and public interface that allows smaller Canadian museums to produce and promote local history exhibitions on line created in collaboration with the communities they serve.”

Some might have a hard time seeing the correlations between the government’s priorities, the budget announcements, and the realities in which the heritage sector operates. On the one hand, we see national museum’s budgets preserved, increases to the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program, and a commitment to the Canadian Conservation Institute. On the other, we see the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) remain at $6.7 million, which is less than the initial amount in 1972; we see $9.6 million cuts to Library and Archives Canada; and severe cuts to Parks Canada (now under the authority of the Environment Minister) which will affect national historic sites and limit access to them. These are all elements that do not suggest that heritage is clearly favoured in the government’s priorities.

 2.    Canadians share, express and appreciate their Canadian identity.


The report on Plans and Priorities includes the Katimavik program in its list, but we already know from the budget that the program was eliminated in the cuts. So we have decided not to include this list which doesn’t reflect the current situation. The Department is concentrating its efforts for youth activities into three programs, the Canadian Studies Program (not to be confused with the Understanding Canada: Canadian Studies Program, eliminated within International Affairs), the Interchange Canada Program, and Youth Take Charge.

National holidays, historical celebrations, and royal celebrations are also financed under this heading. At least $28 million has been put toward the War of 1812 commemorations (some have also said the number is as high as $70 million), $7.5 million for the Queen’s Jubilee (which includes $1.2 million for the royal visit by Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla).

 3.    Canadians participate and excel at sports

Lastly, a brief word on sports: important increases are signalled for  2013-2014 and 2014-2015, mainly because of the Pan American Games and the Parapan American Games in 2015.

What can you do?

We need your help to complete our budget analysis. Given that the process of cuts and program redesign is ongoing, it is difficult to have a clear picture of what situation will prevail in the coming weeks. Decisions are becoming known bit by bit and aren’t necessarily made public (for example, the cuts to the CCA and to the Coalition for Cultural Diversity.) Bearing this in mind, we invite you to let us know if your organization has suffered cuts or if the programs that fund your organization have changed criteria. We can then integrate this information into our formal budget analysis for 2012. You can send information to