Government of Canada Cultural Policies and Measures

Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Film Board of Canada, National Arts Centre, National Gallery of Canada
Key objectives of the measure:

The objectives of the Government of Canada cultural policies and measures are listed in a Whole-of-government framework ( This framework makes provisions for an umbrella objective, namely, ensuring a “Vibrant Canadian culture and heritage”, to which the strategic objectives of departments and agencies are linked, contributing to making it a reality. A list of these objectives is available under the component “Institutions, Agencies or Networks” of the “Primary Sources and Links” Annex.

Scope of the measure:
Local, Regional, National, International
Main feature of the measure:

Several federal agencies implement cultural policies and measures. The Department of Canadian Heritage is responsible for two program directions (program activities) which comprise a whole range of measures that complement one another.

The “cultural industries” program direction supports the Canadian cultural sector to ensure that a range of Canadian cultural content is produced and accessible to Canadian and international audiences. It also contributes to creating conditions to promote the sustainability of Canadian cultural industries. The aim of this program direction is to allow Canadian cultural creators and entrepreneurs to produce, market and export Canadian cultural content. This is possible thanks to programs and services such as grants, contributions, tax credits, policies, and legislative regulations and measures. The basic concept is to encourage the creation of Canadian cultural content and its access, both within the country and abroad. In 2010-2011, expenditures for this program direction totaled CA$303,527,000 (approximately US$ 312,593, 351).

Among the various initiatives included in this program direction are the Canada Music Fund  and the Canada Book Fund. The Canada Music Fund includes five components, each of which contributes in a unique manner to supporting the production of a diverse range of Canadian musical works produced by emerging and established artists. For example, the Music Entrepreneur Component offers financial assistance to established Canadian music entrepreneurs allowing them to build a vigorous, viable industry. Administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage, this component allowed its recipients to launch 144 albums in 2010-2011.

The New Musical Works Component offers musical creators and entrepreneurs the opportunity to produce and market Canadian sound recordings, to provide depth to their art and to increase their expertise. This component is funded in partnership with private-sector Canadian broadcasters and administered by two non profit agencies, the Fondation Musicaction (Musicaction) for the industry’s Francophone sector and the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR) for the Anglophone sector. In 2010-2011, the New Musical Works Component provided assistance for the production of 293 albums and offered assistance to over 1,000 projects in marketing, musical tours and showcases, thereby contributing to the dissemination of Canadian music.  

The Canada Book Fund supports the activities of Canadian book publishers and other sectors of the book industry to ensure access to a wide variety of books by Canadian authors. This assistance is distributed within two components: 1) Support for publishers, the objective of which is the sustainable production and promotion of books by Canadian authors. It offsets  high publishing costs in Canada and strengthens the capacity and competitiveness of the sector (all of the support is distributed in accordance with a funding formula based on sales, which rewards publishers who succeed in delivering content to consumers). 2) Support for organizations whose objective is to promote the development of the Canadian book industry and marketing by helping industry and its organizations to undertake collective projects that provide general benefit to the industry and, as a result to readers everywhere.

In 2010-2011, publishers supported by the Canada Book Fund produced more than 6,500 new Canadian titles (traditional and digital format) written by over 4,000 Canadian authors and translators, including over 900 first projects. The Book Fund has continued to support a wide range of industry activities across the country, including the work of 235 Canadian-owned publishers in over 75 Canadian cities and localities that provide direct employment to nearly 3,000 Canadians.  

The goal of the “arts” program direction is to improve Canadians’ access to artistic, cultural and heritage activities in diverse communities and contribute to the sustainability of the arts sector. This is achieved thanks to funding programs which support the staging of professional artist festivals and performance seasons; improving artistic and heritage infrastructure; improving the business and management practices of arts and heritage organizations; better integration of the arts and heritage in municipal planning; as well as institutions which offer high-calibre training in preparation for professional artistic careers. The basic concept is to encourage access, sustainability and excellence in the arts for all Canadians. The expenditures for this program direction totaled CA$114,580,000 (approximately US$118,002,505) in 2010 2011.

Among the numerous initiatives included in this program direction is the Canada Arts Presentation Fund. This program provides Canadians with access to a wide range of professional artistic experiences in their communities. In fiscal year 2010-2011, the program funded a total of 592 projects in 245 communities. The funded organizations presented various disciplines and connected with various audiences, including with less-served communities. Over the past few years, recipients of this Fund reported  reaching a total audience of over 20 million per year.  

A complete list of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s funding aid programs, their objectives, resources and impact is available at the following address:

The other federal agencies that implement cultural measures in addition to the Department of Canadian Heritage include, for example, Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board of Canada.

Telefilm Canada’s mission is to foster and promote the development of the audiovisual industry in Canada, in particular the feature film, television and new media industries. Among other efforts, Telefilm administers the Canada Feature Film Fund which provides assistance for screenwriting, project development, production, marketing and dubbing and subtitling of quality Canadian feature films and official co-productions that have high box office potential in Canadas. In administering this Fund, Telefilm seeks to support feature films that are distinctly Canadian, which reflect Canadian society and its cultural diversity. Telefilm’s financial participation can come in various forms:  investments, conditionally repayable advances, grants or performance envelopes. The program expenditures for Telefilm Canada totalled CA$93,959,000 (approximately US$96,765,555) in 2010-2011.

As a public, national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation must offer radio and television services that include a wide variety of programs to inform, enlighten and entertain the public. The Corporation’s programming must be predominantly and distinctively Canadian; reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions; actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression; be in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official-language community, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities; strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French; contribute to shared national consciousness and identity; be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose; and reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada. The program expenditures for the Corporation amounted to CA$1,137,145,000 (approximately US$1,171,111,521) in 2010-2011.

The mandate of the National Film Board (NFB) is to produce and distribute original, innovative audiovisual works which provide people with a better understanding of issues faced by the Canadian population and which provide more insight into Canadian values and points of view across the country and the world. As a public sector producer, the NFB produces original audiovisual works which reflect diverse Canadian perspectives—cultural, regional and Aboriginal, among others—and which arise from the various creators and communities of the country. This program direction is involved in fields in which the private sector has no presence and provides creators with the opportunity to explore artistic and technological advances with respect to form and content. It also ensures the discovery, ongoing training and coaching of talents and creativity within the filmmaker communities and other creator communities. The program expenditures for the NFB amounted to CA$59,400,000 (approximately US$61,174,278) in 2010-2011.

Challenges identified in the implementation of this measure:

One of the main challenges encountered in Canada in implementing cultural policies and measures since the ratification of the Convention in 2005 was related to the technological impacts of the manner in which Canadians create, share and take part in arts and culture. In addition to being at the heart of all creative industries, digital technologies and content are now crucial to the economy and to Canadian society. New technologies provide Canadians with easier access to artistic and cultural content when they want it on various platforms. The details of the work carried out by the Government of Canada to face this challenge, in particular for modernizing programs, are provided in section 4 of this report.


Main conclusions of the evaluation of the measure:

The general impact of the cultural policies and measures implemented in Canada is substantial. With an active domestic market and a growing international exposure, the current value added by industries in the cultural sector amounted to CA$46 billion in 2007. With economic impacts for the tourism and services industries, as well as for the IT sector, it is evident that the Canadian arts and culture industries contribute to the country’s economy. This industry also ensures substantial social value—as confirmed in the Convention—by encouraging citizens to share various forms of cultural expression.

The specific impact of each measure is also evaluated in detail. At the federal level, agencies responsible for implementing cultural measures specifically report on their performance in implementing all of the program direction under their jurisdiction each year, via a public report tabled to the Parliament of Canada.  

For example, as detailed in the Department of Canadian Heritage’s “2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report” ( , a vast range of Canadian cultural content and works of art across the nation continued to be created and produced in 2010-2011, allowing Canadians to benefit from a full spectrum of dynamic cultural experiences. Within the cultural industries, there was a marked increase in the number of television hours produced in Canada, periodicals and books from Canadian authors published, as well as music albums distributed by Canadian artists. The gross revenues and profit margins of the cultural industries are also a testament to the sector’s sustainability.

Access to Canadian cultural content on domestic and international markets has also improved overall, since far more Canadian households now have access to Internet, radio and television. The availability of Canadian radio services has also risen and the viewing share of Canadian television programs in both official languages has increased. In addition, the market share of domestic album sales for Canadian artists has increased, with Canadians continuing to purchase more Canadian music. Over the years, agencies dedicated to arts funded by Canadian Heritage Programs have secured diverse sources of income, which is evidence of the leverage effect of the Department’s programs.

A list of the 2010-2011 reports from federal agencies responsible for implementing cultural measures is available under the “Books and Documents” component of the “Main Sources and Links” Annex.

Indicators used to determine impact:
The indicators used in 2010-2011 by the Department of Canadian Heritage for the main program directions supporting the diversity of cultural expressions were as follows:• Diversity and volume of artistic works and Canadian cultural content created and produced, by category.• The range of Canadian heritage, cultural content and artistic works accessible to the country and abroad, by category.
Goal(s) of UNESCO's 2005 Convention
Cultural Domain(s)