Report: "What We Heard Across Canada: Canadian Content in a Digital World"

A report has been issued by Ipsos Public Affairs Canada detailing the findings of a series of consultations conducted by the Ministry of Canadian Heritage in 2016, on the subject of Canadian Content in a Digital World. The consultations were conducted at in-person sessions in various Canadian communities (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Iqaluit) as well as via social media and an online portal. The report can be accessed online here

Below, please find a non-comprehensive summary of the findings from the report.

Central Questions

The discussions and responses drawn from these initial questions dictated the findings of the consultations:

  • What does a cultural system that supports creators and respects citizen choice look like to you?
  • How do we support Canada's artists, content creators and cultural entrepreneurs in order to create a cultural ecosystem in which they thrive and that will benefit the growth of our middle class at home, and help them reach beyond our borders?
  • How can we meet the challenge of promoting Canada's creativity in the digital world, and how can we use Canadian content to promote a strong democracy?

The report synthesized the in-person and online responses to these questions into three principles.

Principle #1: Focusing On Citizens and Creators

Respondents stressed the need for investment in Canada's creative class. For many, this meant an overhaul of the country's current public funding models to allow for greater accessibility and flexibility. This also meant reviewing the criteria around which art and artists qualify for funding, in order to encourage less creative restriction. Respondents also wished to strike a balance between profitability and cultural value, although what the ideal balance looked like varied from respondent to respondent.

It was also suggested that Canada must take a more active role in developing its creators: not only in refining their skills, but in developing sustainable arts businesses to support the country's economy. Money must be spent on education of the public at large on the benefits of the cultural sector.

Finally, respondents stressed the importance of protecting Canadian creators, by levelling the playing field for publicly funded and private sector content, and bringing Canadian laws such as the Broadcast Act current to reflect a digital age.

Principle #2: Reflecting Canadian Values and Promoting Sound Democracy

Participants in the consultations were eager that Canadian content should recognize Canada's diversity -- both ethnic and cultural diversity as well as the diverse geography and physical landscape of the country. Some suggested that specific quotas around certain kinds of Canadian content be implemented in order to ensure equal representation. This included representation of official languages, Indigenous people, and the country's multicultural makeup more generally.

Participants also felt that a digital gateway to Canadian content should be developed. In an era saturated with digital content, consumer choice is virtually guaranteed, so a centralized platform would give Canadian creators a space to disseminate their work rather than competing for space on American or multi-national platforms. The report also suggests that money be invested in allowing universal access to high speed broadband, in order to optimize choice and accessibility for consumers of Canadian content.

Respondents generally agreed that the structure of the CBC should be reconsidered, but had varying ideas on what sort of changes would be most effective.

Principle #3: Catalyzing Economic and Social Innovation

Respondents agreed that any new Canadian content strategy should prioritize innovation, and emphasized the importance of collaboration: between the public and private sectors, between the Ministry of Canadian Heritage and other institutions, and cross-sectoral collaborations involving the industrial and economic sectors. It is also important that Canada develop a comprehensive cultural export strategy.

Vancouver Consultations

The report details the various in-person community roundtables, and the differences between the priorities generated by each community. The Vancouver roundtable placed a heavy emphasis on diversity and the sociopolitical importance of the Canadian cultural sector.

Read the Reports

This summary is by no means exhaustive. To read the report yourself, click here. For a topline summary of the Vancouver in-person consultations, please click here.

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