Thank you, Madam Chair. I'm pleased to be here today to talk about a Creative Canada, our government's vision for the future of Canada's creative industries. I'm joined by Graham Flack, my deputy minister, and also Guylaine Roy, the associate deputy minister.
Let me start with two questions. Why has culture always mattered to Canadians, and why should it matter now? The answers to these questions are fundamentally about who we are and who we want to be. We are a small diverse population spread over a large land mass. We're a country bound by reconciliation and shaped by the rich cultures and traditions of indigenous people.
We are a country rooted in our official languages, English and French—
We celebrate the fact that 8 million francophones live surrounded by hundreds of millions of English-speakers.
We are a democracy that believes in gender and racial equality and human rights. We are a culturally diverse country that looks like the world. All of these things make our culture and our identity dynamic, and this strength is reflected in our creative industries. Our arts and culture sector is a $54.6-billion industry that boasts more than 630,000 jobs. Behind each of those jobs is a talented, hard-working individual.
It is because of these people that we invested $1.9 billion in our arts and culture in our very first budget, budget 2016, the highest investment among G7 nations at the time. This investment included commitments of $675 million to CBC/Radio-Canada, $550 million to the Canada Council for the Arts, and increased funds for Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board of Canada, among others.
This is just a first stage. A lot remains to be done. So I decided to bring together the players in our creative industries in order to better understand the challenges facing us and to determine what is possible.
More than 30,000 Canadians took part in that process. They shared with me the challenges they have to face, their ideas, and many opportunities that are open to us.
So here is the major question: how do we protect and promote our culture in a digital world with no borders?
The comments I heard first-hand shaped our government's vision for a Creative Canada. In addition to the consultations, we took action in a number of areas. There were, of course, some concrete steps we could take.
First, our historic investments, as I have already mentioned. Let me give you a little background here. When I took this position, a bond of trust had to be re-established with the cultural community. After 10 years of underinvestment and budget cuts, we wanted to show the cultural sector how important it is. That is why we have made historic investments in culture.
Last August, we also referred two broadcasting decisions back to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, for its reconsideration, and we asked it to consider how it can help us in achieving the right balance between two necessities: investment in content and our creators' ability to compete.
We also committed $35 million over two years to help export our culture. This area had seen budget cuts and we wanted to continue our efforts in cultural diplomacy and international trade in the creative industries.
We invested $4.15 million over two years in the Canada Music Fund. One hundred musicians have been able to reap the benefits of this investment alone. We also launched an independent process for the appointment of the President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, as well as the members of its board of directors.
Last September 28, I delivered a speech outlining this new vision, Creative Canada, along with the first initiatives to help us get there. This vision has a clear goal: for Canada to be a world leader in the quality of our creative industries, with our creators empowered to make great content that stands out at home and around the world, and for Canada to be a pioneer in ensuring a space on all existing digital platforms for our Canadian content.
We want to retain our incredible talent at home and encourage our people to develop their ideas into great stories. We want to entice them to take risks and innovate on many platforms.
We want to help them distribute their work at home and abroad.
We are going to support the creation of high-quality content in French because of the excellent work our creators do.
Our vision rests on the three pillars.
First, we want to invest in our creators and their stories. We will do this in a number of ways. For example, to combat the declining revenue for cable distributors in the Canada Media Fund, we will increase the federal contribution to this fund by several million dollars, ensuring that one third of the funding goes to French-language projects.
We are going to support cultural hubs, like the Cape Breton Centre for Arts, Culture and Innovation, the 312 Main project, or the Société des arts technologiques, or SAT. We are going to modernize programs like the Canada Music Fund and eliminate red tape for tax credits. We are going to reform the Copyright Board Canada and modernize the Copyright Act.
These measures will help us build on our strengths and our unique content, a content that reflects our linguistic duality, indigenous expression and rich cultural diversity.
Our second pillar is making sure our content is discovered and distributed across Canada and around the world. In this area we ask ourselves two main questions. First, we ask how we ensure that we have a strong domestic market. Second, in the global hunt for stories, we ask how we make sure that Canadian content stands out and can reach audiences around the world.
We are responding to these questions in a number of ways. We're investing $125 million over five years to support Canada's first-ever creative export strategy, which will put boots on the ground at embassies and missions, increase our presence at international events, and help our creative industries access new markets.
As part of this strategy, I will be leading Canada's first creative industries trade mission to China in April, 2018. In addition, we're launching a review of the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act. We have asked the CRTC to look at how new models will support the creation and distribution of Canadian entertainment and information, and we will be launching a Creative Industries Council to foster collaboration and innovation within our creative industries. We will use the tools we have to ensure that companies coming into Canada contribute to our goals, including supporting content in both official languages.
Since our existing tools do not take into account the existence of digital platforms, our government thought it necessary to subject the Netflix investment to a review under the Investment Canada Act. The investment encompasses the following: first of all, the creation of Netflix Canada, the first production company of its kind for Netflix outside of the United States; second, a minimum net investment of $500 million for original productions in Canada in English and French over five years; and third, $25 million for a French-language market development strategy that targets creators and producers inside and outside of Quebec and helps them fund things like pitch days for producers and recruitment events. These investments will help showcase our Canadian productions on their platform, representing a guaranteed minimum investment from a foreign platform in our creators and in our stories.
I'll turn now to our third pillar, which is strengthening public broadcasting and supporting local news. I want to recognize the hard work of this committee on this issue. Thanks to all. Your rigorous review, witness testimony, and findings helped identify clear concerns and confirmed that Canadians care deeply about the issue. The measures announced included renewing and strengthening the mandate of our public broadcaster; reviewing the Canada Periodical Fund to provide the support that our publications need to innovate, adapt, and transition onto the platforms Canadians choose; and supporting local news by encouraging innovation, experimentation, and the transition to digital.
We continue to work on a whole-of-government approach to these issues facing local news, which we know is critical to our democracy.
In conclusion, Creative Canada is a new strategy that puts in place investments in our creators and our creative industries. It is a plan for reform, a transition plan. It is the logical continuation of the leadership that our government has always demonstrated on this important file. So we are half-way through it and a lot remains to be done.
I recognize that the change brings with it some anxiety, there is no doubt. That is why we are embarking on this great reform in all humility. Our government's objective is to improve the lot of the French and English cultural sectors and to allow them to grow.
We owe it to our creators, to our incredible talents and to the many middle-class families across this country who work in this booming industry, to come together and help us forge a distinctly Canadian path forward.
I will be happy to answer all my colleagues' questions.