Federal Election 2021
A federal election has been called. The SAA has created and compiled information to help you vote this September 20th!
It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the arts and culture sector including its artists, cultural workers, arts organizations and businesses. Looking forward, recovery to pre-pandemic levels is not expected until 2023-24.
The Arts and Culture sector is facing unprecedented disruptions and is looking to the federal government for recovery help and investment into the future.
Current snapshot of the arts and culture sector
- The sector is the third largest employer in Canada. In terms of jobs, our sector has also been one of the most affected by the pandemic. The number of jobs dropped from 678,275 in 2019 (Q4) to in 603,482 in 2021 (Q1). This represents a decline of 11%. For live performance, jobs dropped even lower by about 47%. Even more, these figures do not capture the more than 158,000 artists in Canada whose already precarious situation is exacerbated by the reality of the ongoing crisis. i
- The sector is an important pillar of the Canadian economy. But it faced unprecedented business disruptions due to the pandemic. In 2019, the GDP for the sector exceeded $57 billion, more than 2.7% of Canadian GDP. In 2020, this figure decreased to $52.2 billion, a decline of 9.2%. Live performance was the worst hit with its GDP significantly below fourth quarter 2019 by about 60%. The GDP of written and published works (17%) and Original Visual Art (23%) also took significant hits than 2019 levels. ii
SAA has five main priorities this coming Federal Election. To read more about the below priorities, click here.
- Lessen the Precarity of Artists and Cultural Workers
- Invest in Sector Specific Relief Programs
- Commit to investing in the cultural sector and ensure the diversity of cultural expressions
- Revision of the Broadcasting Act
- Revision of the Copyright Act
Canada goes to the polls on Sept. 20. Make an informed decision and check out the party platforms.
- Liberal Party of Canada – Forward. For Everyone
- Conservative Party of Canada – Canada’s Recovery Plan
- NDP – Ready for Better New Democrats’ Commitments to You
- Green Pary of Canada – Election Platform 2021 Be Daring
- People’s Party of Canada – Common Sense policies That Put Canadians First
- Maverick Party of Canada – Maverick Party Policy
SAA Platform Analysis written by Dave Margoshes
Canadian artists and cultural workers are reaping a rich harvest of promises in the platforms of the various political parties vying for power in the 2021 Federal Election. Major party leaders Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole, Jagmeet Singh and Annamie Paul all are offering various levels of goodies for the arts and cultural sector and those who toil there.
Trudeau’s Liberals are pledging to be especially generous, offering more cash in almost all areas of the arts. Key is an “Arts and Culture Recovery Program” that would match ticket sales for performing arts, live theatres, and other cultural events “to make up for reduced capacity.” Also included is a pledge to “protect our vibrant film and television production sector with COVID-related insurance coverage, supporting 150,000 Canadian jobs.”
There’s a 50 percent boost in store for the Canada Council, Public Lending Rights and the Canada Book and Film funds, and a promised plum of especial interest to artists is a $50 million boost to the Canada Council to allow “emergency relief to out-of-work artists, craftsmen, creators, and authors who are primarily self-employed or independent contractors who continue to face economic challenges caused by COVID-19.”
There’s also a promise of long-awaited copyright reform, reform of the Broadcasting Act to ensure benefit for Canadian creators, and enhanced funding for the Canada media and music funds, Telefilm Canada and the CBC. The cherry atop the Liberal ice cream sundae is a “summit… on plans to restart the industry,” to be held within 100 days of their re-election – should that come to pass.
O’Toole’s Conservative Party has a much different attitude. “Strengthening cultural industries” is the 21st of 23 chapters in the 160-page platform document. But the emphasis is on the industries – television, the internet and the news media. There’s very little for the artists who work within those industries – in fact, the words “art” and “artists’ do not appear in the document.
There is, though, a pledge to “correct the adverse economic impact for creators and publishers from the uncompensated use of their work” – welcome news, despite the peculiar lack of the word “copyright.”
There’s no new money for the Canada Council, the CBC or other cultural bodies.
The Conservatives want less regulation of broadcasting and on-line activities. They’re opposed to Facebook and other social media posts that incite violence (something already against the law under the Criminal Code), but draw the line there, in the name of free speech. (The Liberals intend a crackdown on “harmful online content,” including hate.)
The New Democrats under Singh have an approach much closer to that of the Liberals, and in some areas sprint ahead. The section on the arts in its 115-page platform document opens this way: “Art and culture are at the heart of who we are as Canadians.” The document pledges to “support a strong, independent Canadian arts and culture industry,” with special attention to “rebuilding for the performing arts, theatre festivals and other arts that have been most severely impacted by the pandemic.”
And here’s something revolutionary from a Canadian political party: “We think that artists should be able to earn a decent living from their art, and that government has an important role to play.” Part of their plan to achieve that is through income tax averaging for artists and cultural workers – something the cultural community has long sought. The NDP is also promising increased and stable funding for the arts sector.
The Green Party’s attitude toward art and culture is akin to the NDP’s. “Artists have more influence on public policy than an army of politicians,” their platform document declares. “We need to support them to fully engage with the climate emergency.”
To that end, the party calls for increased financial support for individual artists and arts organizations to the tune of $1 billion, with special attention to the Indigenous community and to pandemic recovery..
The Greens also want to break up media conglomerates, apply Canadian content rules to Netflix and other foreign internet broadcasters and begin to tax advertising on social media platforms. They’re in favour of copyright reform and a tax averaging plan for artists.
All of the major parties mention the need for support of diversity in the arts, with the Liberals and NDP pledging new earmarked funding to that end.
On the margins, the People’s Party of Canada, led by former Conservative MP and cabinet minister Maxime Bernier, is fielding a full slate of candidates in Saskatchewan. Its platform makes no mention of arts or cultural issues.
And the new western-based Maverick Party, which has only seven candidates in the field in Saskatchewan, has no arts and culture plank in its brief platform, but under a section labeled “Media” it calls for the end of government support to the CBC and private news media.
Plan to Vote: What are the options?
Vote on Election Day: Go to your assigned polling station on September 20, show your ID, and cast your ballot.
Vote at Advance Polls: ote ahead of Election Day from September 10-13. Note that your advance polling station might not be the same as your regular polling station.
Vote by Mail: Avoid the crowds altogether and register to drop your vote in the mailbox. This uses special ballot rules and there are deadlines to consider. Apply for a vote by mail package by September 14.
At an Elections Canada Office: Another special ballot situation, but this time in person. If you know which candidate you want to support, you can vote at any time at an Elections Canada office until September 14.
More infomation can be found at Elections Canda.