Premier Kathleen Wynne and Eleanor McMahon by Ben More Assynt (CC BY 2.0)

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Eleanor McMahon by Ben More Assynt (CC BY 2.0)


Ontario Government Tells Ottawa It Is Open to New Internet Tax to Fund Cancon

The Canadian Heritage consultation on Canadian content in a digital world recently concluded and the department has now posted the responses. There are few surprises with many creator groups supporting Netflix and Internet taxes, while Internet providers and consumer groups oppose them (my submission can be found here). The Ontario government was the only provincial government to file a response. The Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s submission acknowledges that there is “no evidence of an overall Cancon policy failure that would justify revolutionary policy reform”, but leaves little doubt that the government is open to new Internet taxes to fund Canadian content.

The Ontario government previously worked toward a Netflix tax as part of the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV consultation. Given the controversy that generated, it is a bit more cautious this time but its support is not difficult to discern. Its starting point is that all industry players in the Canadian media market be required to contribute to Cancon. The submission states:

The ministry also recommends that the federal government ensure that all industry players participating in, and benefitting from, the Canadian media market contribute, financially or otherwise, to Cancon. These contributions by industry players could be (sample only):

  • Voluntary and/or mandated (by the federal government or CRTC)
  • For Cancon development, creation, production, distribution, marketing and promotion, discovery and/or export; and
  • Financial or non-financial

The Ontario government notes that it is “not advocating for any specific industry player contribution mechanism or contribution level.” In other words, it is not calling for a Netflix-specific tax. That said, it forecasts declining contributions from broadcasters and broadcast distributors and it urges the federal government to “conduct a risk-benefit analysis of all available options, to determine the best way to fill the Cancon funding gap while living within the FPT government fiscal plans.”

The Ontario government then acknowledges two realities. First, that the federal government has said there will be no Netflix tax. Second, that any new Cancon funding must come from a new Cancon revenue source. What might that be? The submission states:

Accordingly, MCTS acknowledges that Minister Joly has publicly confirmed that the FCPR [federal Cancon policy review] scope includes options for new federal government-mandated Cancon contributions from industry players, specifically an ISP levy and/or sales tax payable by foreign OTTs.

The submission does not identify other funding options as part of this analysis. In other words, the Wynne government goes out of its way to emphasize that it believes that there is a need for more funding for Cancon and that it sees two new tax options: a sales tax on digital services and/or an Internet tax.



  1. The good news is that it’s increasingly certain that Ontario will not have to endure another Liberal government.

    As an Ontarian, I strongly object to the use of our taxes to fund “Cancon”. It’s evident that “Cancon” simply means “stuff that never should have been made”. If it’s any good, it will find funding in other ways (may I recommend crowdfunding…).

  2. I thoroughly agree. If people aren’t willing to support another version of Anne of Green Gables, corner gas, etc then why force us to support the few that want that content. I use Netflix specifically because I don’t want to see more CBC Sunday night content and its I’ll. I avoid most canon because it’s just not interesting.

  3. looks like another (personal) service/conglomerate empire to me.
    (an info one. -snerk.- Like they do that well.)
    another pure-patronage product.

    That’ll end up being as strictly enforced as quebec’s ‘fox news’
    and school-text propaganda?

    (ha. see any e-books yet?)
    hopefully. (looking at what the web-funded, ie porn +religious services)

    can-con (ents. monoculture’s last gasp, for those who don’t get it) new money, eh?
    Like TV ont? or the music royalties?
    or where film money goes ?
    or the CBC’s evolving hockey services?

    bah humbug fooey. (amazon film services?)

  4. “it sees two new tax options: a sales tax on digital services and/or an Internet tax.”

    I can’t imagine how a sales tax on digital services would work. All the services that I buy are from companies in other countries and on other continents. Apart from paying for some .ca domains from CIRA, the only other Canadian service that I use is my ISP and that already has a sales tax. Perhaps there are some entertainment services, but I suspect those already carry a tax.

    An “internet tax” would be unethical and oppressive. I use the internet mostly to provide free content for others by way of running web sites and creating the content. If the Canadian government were going to charge me for doing that and then give the money to commercial establishments, I would be very, very, angry.

  5. Naturally! That witch, Wynne, and her band of thieves are convinced the taxpayer has bottomless pockets.

    Taxes and fees are the only 2 words she knows. Take a look at the hole she and Dalton have put Ontariowe in.

    No thanks! NO MORE TAXES OR FEES!!!

    • … and any form of austerity is NOT in her vocabulary.

      Our internet and cell costs are a global joke. Add more costs????

  6. I just don’t see how they could justify taxing the “whole internet”, the majority of it is not-for-profit information, and not video content. That idea shouldn’t even be on the table! They should be debating about taxing online VIDEO content providers that are subscription based, although apparently they don’t want to do that. I think an “internet tax” should be used for something that benefits all internet users, like providing high-speed/quality broadband to rural communities. My internet is so slow I can’t even stream video properly anyway, and internet is now an essential service.