We know Canadians are increasingly concerned about the power of the corporate web giants who are not paying their fair share and are not bound by the same rules as Canadian companies.
Much has changed in the thirty years since the Broadcasting Act was last updated and it is time that we stop multi-billion-dollar corporations making huge profits on the backs of Canadian artists.
At the same time, the NDP has always stood up for freedom of expression and we are pleased to see that the federal government has taken to heart the concerns of many Canadians on this issue.
Since the Broadcasting Act originally came into effect, the CRTC has not regulated the online platforms that compete unfairly with Canadian entities. Unlike Canadian broadcast distribution companies, web giants such as Netflix and Disney+ are not required to pay a portion of their profits to support Canadian artists.
As a result of this unfair competition, Canada’s cultural businesses have lost significant revenue, and media and cultural workers have lost work opportunities, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, 1-in-4 people working in the cultural sector lost their jobs, but Netflix's revenues increased by over 22% in the same year.
This had to be fixed.
This is why the NDP asked the federal government to create a level playing field between Canadian broadcasters, our workers in the cultural sector, and the web giants so companies like Netflix will be required to pay a share of its profits to cultural workers through funds such as the Canada Media Fund, as Canadian broadcasters are required to do.
Bill C-11 updates Canadian broadcasting policy by ensuring the Canadian broadcasting system meets the needs of all Canadians; provides opportunities for Indigenous communities, including programming in Indigenous languages that reflects Indigenous cultures; and, programming that is accessible to persons living with disabilities and is free of barriers.
There has been much misinformation about this bill by the Conservative Party including falsely claiming provisions that are actually not in the bill itself and insisting individual Canadians will lose the ability to post their opinions online. This is simply not factual.
In fact, C-11 draws a distinction between amateur content by individual Canadians and professional content that generates revenue. And broadcasting regulations would not apply to social media services with respect to amateur programming uploaded by individual users, creators and influencers.
It was disappointing that Conservative MPs sitting on the Parliamentary Heritage Committee refused to participate in a proper legislative review of the bill as an opportunity to improve it. Meeting after meeting, the Conservatives filibustered the committee, blocked witnesses from appearing and stopped amendments from being debated. Even though all other parties, including the NDP, submitted amendments in an effort to enhance the bill’s provisions, the Conservatives refused to move to have amendments discussed. The NDP successfully moved almost a dozen amendments because we believed in working hard to improve the bill.
The work of NDP MP’s ensured that freedom of expression has been enhanced as the bill has advanced through the Parliamentary process.
Members of the Parliamentary Heritage Committee unanimously agreed that freedom of expression is now paramount in the direction given to the CRTC in this legislation. Furthermore, because of NDP amendments the CRTC is now more accountable to Canadians.
The NDP also ensured that community broadcasting be renewed and the opportunity for home-grown content development be protected. Local programming must reflect Canada’s communities, regions, Indigenous and multicultural fabric, including third-language programming support, new and emerging Canadian creative talent—all important as acost-effective venues for learning new skills, taking risks and exchanging ideas.
It has also been important to ensure that Canadian jobs and Canadian broadcasting are enhanced, particularly with respect to employment in Canada and Canadian programming. This means about $1 billion in investments according to estimates which will translate into tens of thousands of jobs across the country. This should also contribute to a significant renaissance of the Canadian creative and cultural industries.
For further information, about the content of Bill C-11, please check it out here. More information about the work undertaken by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Bill C-11, including studies, activities and reports is also available here: CHPC - Home - House of Commons of Canada (ourcommons.ca).