Canada/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

Policy frameworks: The Department of Canadian Heritage identified five priorities in the Report on Plans and Priorities (2008-2009), which together are designed to help build a cohesive and creative Canada. Of these, two were previously committed, one was ongoing and two are new. According to the Treasury Board Secretariat, an ongoing priority is considered to have no end date whereas formerly committed priorities outlined in previous Reports are considered to have estimated end dates. The current planned priorities include the following:

Priority 1: Adapting Cultural Policy to Changing Technology and a Global Marketplace

The October 2007 Speech from the Throne noted the government of Canada's commitment to improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights, including copyright reform. Key initiatives include: implementing supplementary funding to the Arts Presentation Programme for professional arts festivals through programming that combines and complements paid admission events with free or low-cost events, programming that engages local professional artists, extending programming outreach to other communities, initiatives that reach out to youth and other under-served populations, active outreach to schools, community centers or other venues where professional artists engage with the community, and partnerships with other community-based organisations over a period from 2008 to 2011; responding to the evolving Canadian broadcasting environment through collaboration and leveraged partnerships to ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system remains relevant in a global digital environment; adapting the Canadian copyright regime to address domestic and international challenges through legislation amendment; reviewing the Canadian Periodical Policy and redesigning its support framework in 2008-09 and implementing changes in 2009-10; and in support of the program activity to preserve Canada's heritage, moving forward on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights which will be the first new national museum to be established (by legislation) in Canada in 40 years. Legislation to that effect received Royal Assent on 10 March 2008 (see  chapter 5.2).

Priority 2: Promoting Canada through Community Engagement and Major Events

Key initiatives include: Supporting the 400th anniversary in 2008 of the founding of Quebec City; in support of the program activity of access to Canada's cultural life, implementing the Building Communities through the Arts and Heritage Programme for local community festivals and commemorations (including the Budget 2007 announcement of CAD 30 million per year over two years to encourage Canadian involvement in their communities through the expression, celebration and preservation of local arts and heritage); supporting Canadian participants at Expo 2010 in Shanghai; supporting celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Crown Colony of British Columbia; supporting activities related to the 250th anniversary of representative government in Nova Scotia; developing next steps for the Community Historical Recognition Programme and the National Recognition Programme; and moving forward on the Global Centre for Pluralism.

Priority 3: Delivering New Support for Official Languages

The 2006 Speech from the Throne recognised that "linguistic duality is a tremendous asset for the country," while Budget 2007 announced significant funding dedicated to supporting official language minority communities and promoting linguistic duality, as well as for events surrounding the 400th anniversary of Québec City. The government plans to implement new support for Official Languages pursuant to a Budget 2007 announcement of CAD 15 million per year over the next two years for that purpose.

Priority 4: Investing in Canadian Sport

Canada's achievements as a sporting nation contribute to the strength of the Canadian identity as well as to the economic, social, and cultural fabric of the nation. Key initiatives include investing in athlete support, strategic opportunities and promotional activities in preparation for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver-Whistler, British Columbia and implementing the Canadian Heritage Sport Fund. These initiatives also include support to community sport participation in sports.

Priority 5: Strengthening Management Practices

The Department of Canadian Heritage is reviewing and continually adjusting its corporate management infrastructure and its governance structure to respond to new requirements regarding results-based management, comptrollership, risk management, internal audit and evaluation, service delivery, and public service renewal and modernisation. Extensive redesign of the Department's Program Activity Architecture (PAA) and Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) is also currently under way, to further enhance governance and accountability through informed and transparent policy development, decision-making and risk management. 

The Department of Canadian Heritage's Program Activity Architecture (effective as of 1 April 2008) is anchored by two strategic outcomes: Canadians express and share their diverse cultural experiences with each other and the world; and Canada is an inclusive society built on intercultural understanding and citizen participation. These two strategic outcomes are supported by seven programme activities: Creation of Canadian content and performance excellence, sustainability of cultural expression and participation, preservation of Canada's heritage, access to Canada's culture, promotion of inter-cultural understanding, community development and capacity-building, and participation in community and civic life.  Further discussion of selected initiatives is contained in subsequent chapters of this Profile although it should be noted here that sports initiatives also complement certain cultural initiatives in regard to the strategic outcomes and some programme activities.

More generally, in financial terms, planned expenditures relative to the foregoing strategic outcomes and programme activities are slated to drop from just under CAD 1.4 billion in 2008-09 to CAD 985 million in 2010-11, a reduction of 29.4% (see  chapter 6.2.3). The bulk of these departmental cutbacks are reflected in the CAD 342 million in "sunsetted" programme spending during the period 2008-2011, including Tomorrow Starts Today (arts and heritage), Canadian Television Fund, Community Historical Recognition Programme, Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres, Katimavik, the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics and the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. Of these, the two largest are Tomorrow Starts Today and the Canadian Television Fund (see  chapter 8.1.2 and  chapter 4.2.3, respectively). Cutbacks in the department's full-time human resource equivalents are planned to reach 280 from 2 354 in 2008-0 to 2 074 in 2010-11, or a planned decline of 11.9%.

Legislative renewal: Examples of recent cultural legislation include, inter alia, the enactment of the Library and Archives of Canada Act (2004) in order to join together the National Archives and the National Library of Canada under a single institution, Library and Archives Canada. In 2007, in cooperation with Industry Canada, a legislative package for copyright remained under development in order to ensure that the economic and moral rights of creators and other rights holders are recognised and protected while also meeting the needs of users and addressing digital copyright issues, thereby allowing Canada to consider ratifying the 1996 WIPO Internet treaties, namely the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). In June 2007, an Act to amend the Criminal Code for unauthorised recording of a movie in motion picture theatres was enacted based on Bill C-59. In 2008-09, the Department will draft amendments to the Copyright Act which will provide sufficient copyright protection and fair compensation for copyright holders and promote lawful access to works in accordance with international standards. This long over-due revision to copyright legislation is planned to be carried out "as soon as is reasonably possible, depending on the legislative calendar." Amendments to the Copyright Act were introduced in Parliament in June 2008 but were not enacted owing to the federal election held on 14 September 2008.

Other aspects of legislation include reviews of existing legislation through the Standing Committees of Parliament, particularly the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. The following selected list of Bills, studies or enquiries heard by the Committee, as well as government responses thereto, in recent years included: Assistance programme for exhibits and festivals: Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts); Canadian Feature Film Industry; Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund - Mandate and Priorities; Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) - Mandate and Priorities; Follow up of Canadian Feature Film Industry Study; Full investigation of the Role of a Public Broadcaster in the 21st Century; Needs of remote Francophone organisations; Policies and Priorities of the Department of Canadian Heritage; Present Mandate of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Statutory review of Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act; Study on the Future of the Canadian Television Fund; Study related to Canadian museums; and Telefilm Canada - Mandate and Priorities.

Departmental assessment / Programme renewal: Includes ensuring the integrity of existing programmes, assessing departmental programmes in the context of changing priorities and refining cultural objectives. Programme Activity Architecture (PAA), which provides a list of programme activities and establishes links between programme activities, strategic results, resource allocation and the accountability structure, is the principal tool for departmental planning and assessment and performance measurement, including Part III of the Report on Plans and Priorities (2008-09 Estimates) and the Departmental Performance Report (2006-07).

In addition, departmental evaluations are undertaken every 3 to 4 years. For example, in 2003-04, the Auditor General reported on the protection of cultural heritage involving the Department of Canadian Heritage, the National Archives of Canada, the National Library of Canada, the Parks Canada Agency and the Treasury Board Secretariat. In 2005, the Auditor General of Canada reported on the performance of federal programmes in support of the cultural industries notably the Canadian Television Fund and Telefilm Canada. (Report of the Auditor General of Canada, November 2005). In 2006, the following evaluation reports were released, inter alia, on: Canada New Media Fund, Evaluation of Atlantic Canada Cultural and Economic Partnership (ACCEP), Multiculturalism Programme, Canada Magazine Fund, and Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Programme. In 2007, the Community Participation Programme and the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative were evaluated and subsequently discontinued (see below).

In regard to programme renewal, one of the most significant during this decade was the investment of CAD 500 million over three years in new support of Canadian arts and culture (announced in 2001 under the rubric "Tomorrow Starts Today" or TST). The TST investments continue to target all aspects of the creative process by encouraging excellence among artists, promoting arts and heritage among the general population and providing cultural industries with the means and capacity to prosper (see  chapter 8.1.2). The TST has since been renewed until 2010 although as noted previously, it is included amongst those initiatives to be "sunsetted" by the end of 2009-10. As part of an earlier Expenditure Review, recent examples of discontinued programmes include: the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative, the Acknowledgement, Commemoration and Education Programme, the Community Participation Programme and the Court Challenges Programme.

Public outreach: The Public and Regional Affair's Sector is designed to allow the public to understand the department's programmes. It operates a public opinion research capacity as well as coordinates the department's regional offices. The Department provides services to Canadians from 22 points of service located in Gatineau-Ottawa and in five regions: West, Prairies and North, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic. The Sector is also responsible for major events and celebrations through its State Ceremonial and Corporate Events, Celebration, Commemoration and Learning and International Expositions Directorates (see  chapter 3.4.6). The department organises four celebrations through the Celebrate Canada Programme: National Aboriginal Day (June 21), Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and Canada Day (July 1). Examples of the commemoration component include A Canada of Prosperity and Sharing in 2006 which marked the 40th anniversary of the Canada Pension Plan and Democratic Canada in 2007, when Canada celebrates the 140th anniversary of Confederation, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Department of Canadian Heritage also continues to work with Portfolio partners through an Outreach Policy Cluster to develop an integrated and collaborative outreach approach critical to building connections among Canadians through more active inter-cultural understanding and dialogue. The Department of Canadian Heritage extends its public outreach through Culture.ca - Canada's Cultural Gateway established in 2003 and the Canadian Cultural Observatory launched in November 2003 (see  chapter 4.2.2). In 2007, the Department of Canadian Heritage conducted an in-depth review of the funding, relevance and performance of all its programmes and spending to ensure results and value for money from programs that are a priority for Canadians. Pursuant to this review, the government of Canada eliminated the Observatory / Culturescope.ca and Culture.ca. Original programme objectives have been fulfilled in regards to the Observatory / Culturescope.ca and Culture.ca. The digital space has evolved tremendously so that the domestic and international community now has a wider array of interactive and networking vehicles and research tools available.


Chapter published: 19-01-2011


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