Thank you very much.
Mr. Chair, I want to take a moment to express how much I've appreciated coming to your committee, and I want to thank the committee members.
This may in fact be one of my last committee appearances, so I did want to wish you all the best and thank you again for being so great at looking at these studies with a full view and trying to do your very best to maintain support, as we have as the Government of Canada, for arts, culture, and heritage.
I'm pleased to be here today with our deputy minister and of course our department's chief financial officer. I'm going to discuss a number of things, including what the committee has asked me to discuss with regard to the main estimates.
The committee has asked me to speak about the main estimates for the Department of Canadian Heritage and portfolio organizations in 2015-2016.
Let me begin by giving you some of the highlights of the department's main estimates.
For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the department's budget is $1.25 billion.
The department's budget includes $173.7 million in operating expenses and $1.06 billion in grants and contributions. In total, this year's main estimates represent a reduction of $135.4 million from last year. This is mainly due to the fact that we have contributed most of the $500 million we committed to the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
We will continue to provide funding for our cultural strategy for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. And we have allotted $16 million to various commemorative projects to celebrate our history and our heritage as part of the lead-up to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
The road to 2017 presents a great opportunity to help Canadians learn more about their history and the events that helped shape our country. And our museums play a major role in that regard.
Let me mention two exhibitions. At the Canadian Museum of History, we have “1867—Rebellion and Confederation”, and at the Canadian War Museum, we have the “Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour”, presented until December 2017.
Since 2012 our government has encouraged Canadians to get to know and celebrate the many milestones on the road to the 150th anniversary of Confederation. This anniversary will be a time to celebrate all that makes Canada a remarkable country, including our rich history. It will also be the ideal time to think about the ways in which we can give back to our communities and make our country even stronger and more united.
We consulted Canadians on how they wanted to celebrate, and we listened to them. Our citizens' spirit of initiative and the ability of our communities to build connections with one another will play a significant role in the 2017 celebrations. Canada's 150th anniversary belongs to all of us, and, together, we will make it a momentous occasion.
Canadian Heritage will work with all government departments to get Canadians involved in the preparations of our country's anniversary. We will help bring people with great ideas and initiatives together with funding partners, so that everyone benefits. We will facilitate and support the efforts of Canadians to organize celebrations in their communities.
To increase awareness as we approach 2017, we have launched a number of projects, celebrations and commemorations.
And over the next two years, we want all Canadians to learn even more about this country's history and be proud of our shared heritage. Next year, we will support commemorative activities for several historical events.
We're also helping raise awareness of important milestones. For example, in 2014 we created media messages to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences. These were the conferences that led to Confederation. These messages were presented on television, on the web, and on social media. In fact, the Fathers of Confederation campaign had a reach of 48 million through social media counts, and videos for the campaign were viewed more than 480,000 times.
We have also highlighted other important events in our history. For example, in 2013 we marked the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and the battle for Canada with the erection of a commemorative monument.
In 2014, we marked the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War.
And this year, we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald, the very first prime minister of Canada, and the 150th anniversary of our national flag.
We are committed to our youth as well. With a budget of $17.7 million, the Exchanges Canada program is providing almost 12,500 young people with opportunities to learn more about Canada, connect with one another, and appreciate the diversity and shared aspects of the Canadian experience.
Also, on the road to 2017, we are celebrating our identity as a leading sport nation. As you know, 2015 has been declared the “Year of Sport” here in Canada. As you will note, we will be hosting a number of very important international sport competitions across the country. I hope you'll all take part.
The Year of Sport in Canada got off to an exciting start as Canada hosted the World Junior Hockey Championships. Other important moments in the Year of Sport are coming, such as the FIFA Women's World Cup from June 6 to July 5, the Pan American Games from July 10 to July 26 and the Parapan Am Games from August 7 to 15 in Toronto.
The Toronto 2015 Games will showcase our country's excellence in sport and leave a lasting legacy. They will also create economic, cultural and community development opportunities for southern Ontario and beyond.
The FIFA Women's World Cup also will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our athletes, as well as for the host city. As a former women's soccer player and soccer coach, and of course as a proud Winnipegger, I'm looking forward to this event especially because some of it is going to be played in my home city of Winnipeg, but Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton will also be enjoying this wonderful sport.
I encourage all Canadians to take part in the games and all sport events and to cheer on our athletes.
During the Year of Sport, we want to encourage people of all ages and abilities and communities across the country to get involved in sport at all levels, because sport and physical activity keep us healthy, as individuals and as members of communities. We want to celebrate all aspects of our great country as we approach our 150th anniversary—our history, our heritage, and also our thriving arts and culture scene.
Arts, culture, and heritage represent close to $50 billion every year in the Canadian economy and over 647,000 jobs across the country.
Our artists, creators, and performers are our pride. Their talent enriches our daily lives and enhances our country's reputation abroad.
Manitoba alone has produced such well-known artists as Daniel Lavoie—who Quebec adopted—and of course Chic Gamine, who come from my own riding. My province and my city are also home to a world-class symphony orchestra, which was invited to perform an all-Canadian program at Carnegie Hall in New York City last year.
Our commitment to arts and culture remain strong. Last year, we made funding permanent for programs supporting arts and culture. In the 2015-2016 main estimates, aside from Canadian Heritage, the portfolio organizations are receiving $1.8 billion in appropriations. The Canada Council for the Arts, for instance, receives $182 million. This includes the permanent renewal of an investment of $5 million per year.
We support Canada's creative sectors and we recognize the significant cultural and economic contributions they make. For example, in the audiovisual industry, we provide approximately $95 million to Telefilm Canada and close to $60 million to the National Film Board.
We're also proud of our musical sector. Canada is the third-largest exporter of musical talents in the world and the seventh-largest market in the world for recorded music. The Canada music fund gives Canadians and the rest of the world better access to Canadian music. In an average year, the fund helps support over 400 album production projects and 1,100 marketing, touring, and showcasing initiatives.
I am also delighted with the success of our audiovisual sector. Every year, we invest more than $660 million through Telefilm Canada, the National Film Board, Canada Media Fund and through tax credit programs. In 2013-2014, we disbursed $134.1 million through the Canada Media Fund, which has been renewed permanently.
Our support has resulted in some impressive successes. I have had the pleasure of participating in the presentation of the Juno Awards this year, as well as the Canadian Screen Awards, the ADISQ Gala and the Jutra Gala. I saw how much talent this country has, not only in music, but in theatre, visual art and film and video production.
In the fields of arts and culture, Canadians have a lot of choices. And I believe that it should also be true of their access to television.
Of course, we all know that in October of 2013 the Speech from the Throne reiterated our government's belief that “Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want.” We said that we would “require channels to be unbundled”. Our commitment to providing Canadians with greater channel choice is just part of our government's plan to take action to ensure greater choice and competition that benefits consumers.
Canadians know that a consumers-first approach is good for everyone. Following the Speech from the Throne, the CRTC launched its Let's Talk TV review of the Canadian television system, a conversation with Canadians so as to examine the televison system in Canada. Our government wants to ensure that the television system fosters choice and flexibility in channel selection, encourages the creation of compelling and diverse programs, and empowers Canadians to make informed choices and have recourse in the case of disputes with their television service providers.
At our request, the CRTC produced a report last April on how to improve Canadian consumers' access to pay and specialty television services on a pick-and-pay basis. After a public process, the CRTC has now put forward the framework to require the industry to provide Canadians with more choice, including an affordable entry-level basic service and the ability to design their own television packages. Our government is pleased that the CRTC has taken into account the views of Canadian consumers in their recent decisions of March 19.
This decision is an important step toward ensuring Canadian consumers enjoy choice and flexibility in their television services. Our government will monitor the implementation of these measures, and we call on all industry players to deliver the choice Canadians deserve as soon as possible.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, our government has accomplished a great deal in recent years to strengthen our arts and cultural sector, ensure an effective sport system and encourage Canadians to appreciate their history and heritage by learning more about it. We have many initiatives planned between now and 2017, and I am delighted about that.
I would now be pleased to respond to any questions you may have.