Report of the committee
Thursday, June 13, 2019
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Monday, June 10, 2019, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.
Observations of a majority of the members of the committee
Support for Canadian Journalism
Our committee fears that the measures taken to assist news organizations will not arrive in time to save our media. Eligible publications will not be able to receive the promised funds until the end of 2020, beginning of 2021.
The witnesses heard were satisfied with the aid envelope of $595 million over five years but doubted that the funds dedicated for tax measures for taxpayers who support the press ($235 million) would really be used in five years. The program’s structure appears to be problematic.
Considering the scope of the crisis affecting written journalism and the urgency to boost the industry, notably in regions and minority communities, our committee urges the Government to consider implementing the following measures, without increasing the total envelope:
• Raise the salary cap for the purpose of the payroll tax credit;
• Raise the payroll tax credit percentage;
• Send the industry a clear signal by committing to rectify the tax, regulatory and structural unfairness that unduly favours foreign content broadcasting platforms; and,
• Ensuring fast track implementation of the program so funds are available as soon as possible.
Additionally, given that all government departments and institutions must publish public notices to keep Canadians informed on policies and regulations, and given the current precarious position of local media who play an essential role within their communities, the government should ensure that all public notices be advertised in local media and that local media advertising be automatically included in the overall government informational campaigns.
Having heard the dissatisfaction expressed by some witnesses, our committee was concerned about the extent of the consultations conducted by the government in connection with the regulatory modernization. Given the uncertainty of these witnesses as to the content and objectives of certain amendments proposed by the bill, as well as concerns over the possible discontinuation of the Canada Gazette, our committee urges the government to ensure, in future stakeholder consultations, that stakeholders are provided in a timely manner with the information necessary to understand the government’s regulatory changes and, as a result, are able to participate fully in the consultation process.