Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly takes to the stage to outline the government’s vision for cultural and creative industries in a digital world in Ottawa on Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Netflix to invest $500M in Canada as part of feds’ new cultural plan

New vision includes leaning heavily on Americans

The Liberal government’s way forward to promote and encourage Canadian culture at home also includes leaning heavily on those influencing it from south of the border.

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s much-awaited reboot of federal cultural policy includes some new tax dollars, but the government is also highlighting a $500 million deal with Internet streaming giant Netflix as part of the hoped-for cultural renaissance.

And the Liberals don’t intend to stop there; in a speech unveiling the new “Creative Canada” policy, Joly said she wants to make sure all foreign platforms are part of the promotion and protection of Canadian stories.

“We want them to participate in our goals to support the creation and discovery of Canadian content that showcases our talent, our cultures and our stories,” she said in a prepared text of her remarks.

“I’m pushing for commitments that benefit our industries.”

The deal with Netflix sets up a Canadian branch of operations for the company and commits Netflix to investing $500 million over five years in original productions in Canada. The deal, agreed to under the Investment Act, means, among other things, that if Netflix doesn’t live up to its side of the bargain, the government could impose fines.

Joly also highlighted initiatives underway by Google and Facebook; the latter will help fund digital journalism development in a new program with Ryerson University.

The state of Canada’s news media — declining revenues and readership for traditional outlets being among the major challenges — was given a nod by Joly but no new federal cash.

“Our approach will not be to bail out industry models that are no longer viable,” she said.

“Rather, we will focus our efforts on supporting innovation, experimentation and transition to digital.”

The policy comes after months of consultation with a wide range of players in Canada’s cultural sector, many of whom had hoped to see new broadcasting players like Netflix or YouTube become part of the formal regulatory landscape for Canadian companies, which requires them to air certain levels of Canadian content and contribute financially to a fund to help develop it.

Private broadcasters’ contributions to the Canadian Media Fund have been dwindling in line with dropping revenues and Joly announced Thursday that the federal government will increase its own share of that fund in order to keep its balance sheet steady.

The Liberals are also looking for new markets for the content which funds like that help generate. They are setting up a new creative export strategy and will finance it with $125 million over five years.

But that’s about it for new money in the policy, for now.

The government is looking at modernizing many of the other funds that contribute to the development of Canadian culture, like those which support the book and periodical industries. Cash already set aside in previous federal budgets for cultural programs will also be allocated to the establishment of creative startup businesses.

Several pieces of legislation are also up for review, including the Copyright Act and Broadcasting Act and there will also be a broad review of the CRTC.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the government will contribute $100 million over four years to a creative export strategy.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: 120th Annual Victoria Day Parade

Check out the photo gallery, watch our live feed of the festivities

Esquimalt Farmers Market kicks off summer season

Recently named Best Mid-sized Farmers Market in B.C., weekly event returns to Memorial Park

Preserving Victoria’s character buildings costly, but worth it

Pemberton and Son recognized for heritage preservation of Promis Block

Reporter gets serious with Tour de Victoria’s 140km ride

Travis Paterson’s training blog for Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria on Aug. 18, Volume 1

‘ALR golf courses should return to farming,’ says ex-ALC chair Frank Leonard

Former mayor says Saanich could appeal Cedar Hill Golf Course application

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

Most Read