A Platform to Encourage and Protect Canadian Creativity

The federal election will be held on Monday, October 21. Follow this link to the Elections Canada webpage for all of your riding and voting information.

The Writers' Union of Canada is approaching the 2019 federal election with the goal of ensuring a properly protected and well-funded cultural space for creating and sharing stories in Canada. Without the stories, information, and ideas generated by our cultural workers, Canadians will know less about who we are and what matters in our society.

The cultural sector contributes $53 billion to the Canadian economy each year, and provides employment to over 660,000 Canadians.

We believe cultural labour is an election issue.

The next government must address the following issues:

Canadian Heritage Must Complete the Copyright Review

The cultural sector spent the last two years helping federal lawmakers to understand the current crisis of free copying in Canada.

The damage to the cultural sector from the degradation of copyright protections is undeniable. Sales of Canadian-authored and published books are in decline, writer incomes have been severely damaged, publishers have curtailed their educational investments, and teachers and students risk infringement under confusing new guidelines for copying materials.

In May 2019, The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released its Shifting Paradigms report after a year of study and public hearings. The report contains 22 progressive recommendations for fixing the Copyright Act and better protecting the work of Canada’s cultural professionals.

Shifting Paradigms was then ignored as Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada claimed ownership of the Copyright Review and made recommendations that will further degrade artists’ rights.

TWUC calls on all parties to support completion of the Copyright Review by the Department of Canadian Heritage (DCH), and adoption of the Shifting Paradigms report recommendations. These measures will encourage more Canadian books in Canadian education, and ensure proper compensation for cultural workers.

Government Must Increase and Sustain Investment in the Public Lending Right

Canada’s Public Lending Right ensures compensation for authors when our work is collected in Canada’s public library systems. It exists as recognition of the great gift of library lending to Canada’s readers, and of the valuable contribution of authors in that lending. Funding for the Public Lending Right Commission is critical to individual writers and to the health of the sector.

Despite recent increases to the Public Lending Right budget ($15 million by 2020), today’s budget falls far short of compensating at a comparable level to when the program launched in 1986. The number of authors and titles eligible for PLR has quadrupled since that time, and because of that the budget impact has been halved.

The fact that funding has not kept pace with cultural production has forced authors to concede to severe reductions in PLR payments and retirement of culturally significant works from the program.

Considering the volume of content covered by PLR (over 100,000 eligible titles and 20,000 authors), it is a very modest fund. The Canada Media Fund stands at $353 million, the Periodical fund for magazines is $75 million, while the recently announced journalism fund, going primarily to newspaper publishers, is $600 million. A doubling of the PLR budget to $30 million is reasonable.

TWUC calls on all parties to support an immediate increase of the Public Lending Right Commission budget to $30 million, and an ongoing annual increase to the budget in order to keep pace with cultural production and lending practices. These measures will help to ensure ongoing Canadian production for our libraries, and proper compensation for cultural workers

Government Must Create Progressive Tax Policies for Cultural Professionals

Most cultural professionals, such as authors, are self-employed and have incomes that can fluctuate dramatically from year to year. Provisions to recognize these realities should be incorporated in income tax reform.

TWUC calls on all parties to support:

  • a copyright income deduction for professional artists;
  • tax-exempt status for subsistence grants from public arts funders; and
  • 3- to 5-year income averaging for authors.

At a Glance

If you are meeting with candidates, remind them that cultural workers are voters, and that our issues are election issues.

  • We expect the next Parliament to repair the Copyright Act and restore the marketplace for Canadian content.
  • We expect the Department of Canadian Heritage to take the lead on the Copyright Review.
  • We expect the Shifting Paradigms recommendations to be adopted.
  • We expect the Public Lending Right budget to be increased to $30 million, and increased further annually to keep pace with cultural production.
  • We expect the implementation of progressive tax policies that reflect the working realities of cultural professionals.

How to Get Involved

The Writers' Union of Canada is a founding member of the Canadian Arts Coalition, which has put together some excellent materials for #VoteArts2019 - the online arts-sector discussion about the federal election. Check out their election toolkit for professional artists here.

Please Note: As a non-partisan professional association, The Writers’ Union of Canada is not directing support or criticism to any given party in the federal election. We respect the opinions and choices of each one of our more than 2,000 members.