1024px-Saw_VII_filming_Metro_Hall_Toronto by Alan Daly / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saw_VII_filming_Metro_Hall_Toronto.jpg

1024px-Saw_VII_filming_Metro_Hall_Toronto by Alan Daly / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saw_VII_filming_Metro_Hall_Toronto.jpg


Ontario’s Record Breaking, Multi-Billion Dollar Film Production Year: “A Healthy Balance Between Domestic and Foreign Production”

The Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel report justifies its call for a massive overhaul of Canadian communications law – with increased consumer costs, violation of net neutrality, CRTC intervention into discoverability, and USMCA violations – due in large measure to concerns about support for the creation of Canadian content. I previously blogged about how the panel did not disclose – in either its report or subsequent comments – results of benchmarking research on the Canadian television production sector it commissioned from Nordicity. That report reveals that Canada ranks first among peer countries with respect to television production per capita, domestic television production (ie. Cancon or equivalent domestic production) per capita, hours of television production, and employment.

Last week, Ontario Creates, the Government of Ontario’s agency for cultural creation, released new data that reinforced how the panel’s claims regarding the state of Canadian film and television production are not supported by industry data. Ontario Creates touted a “record breaking year” for Ontario’s film and television production sector, citing more than $2 billion in production spending for 343 productions. Of the $2.1 billion, there was a near-even split between domestic and foreign production: $1.1 billion in foreign production and $1 billion on domestic productions.

Janet Yale, the panel chair, recently told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage:

The main distinction we were trying to draw was between service productions and productions that count as contributing to Canadian culture. Service productions are great in the sense that there are jobs created, there is employment, there is production capacity, and it’s great for the Canadian economy. We don’t want to take away anything from the contributions that have been made by organizations like Netflix and other, that have decided to invest in Canada to make those service productions.

That has nothing to do with cultural policy because the key creative positions; the writers, the actors, and directors are not held by Canadians. If we’re trying to make sure that in a world of endless choices and voices that there are Canadian choices, then those productions that we’re saying they should invest in, must meet the definition of Canadian content, in which case the key creative positions, for them to meet the Canadian content criteria, would have to be held by Canadians.

I’ve pointed out in my Cancon quiz that identifying what counts as “certified” Canadian content can be difficult. Yet the data from Ontario demonstrates that even when identified as Canadian, there is no crisis. In fact, the opposite is true with record breaking domestic production numbers taking place without the panel’s onerous, intrusive, and unnecessary recommendations to extend regulations to the Internet sites and services around the world.


  1. Fortinbras says:

    In 2006, an important revision of the manner in which the CRTC implements the Telecommunications Act resulted from a Cabinet Order issuing a Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives. First and foremost, the order declared that the Commission “should rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible as the means of achieving the telecommunications policy objectives”, and that “when relying on regulation, the Commission should use measures that are efficient and proportionate to their purpose and that interfere with the operation of competitive market forces to the minimum extent necessary…”

    This Cabinet Order has no counterpart in the implementation of the Broadcasting Act, because the Act’s policy objectives are primarily cultural and social, rather than economic. That said, there are powerful forces that continue to seek to impose a market-oriented policy direction on Canadian broadcasting. These forces are disappointed the Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel report did not propose such a direction for broadcasting. Instead, the panel’s report proposes retaining cultural and social objectives, such as the pursuit of national identity and cultural sovereignty. As a result, “free market” advocates, including those that believe in Internet exceptionalism in regard to Canadian law and regulation, such as Michael Geist, are endeavoring to denigrate the review panel’s recommendations.

    The Broadcasting Act says that the Canadian broadcasting system operates primarily in English and in French, thereby recognizing the existence of two official languages and two distinct broadcasting sectors. At no time does Michael Geist give the slightest consideration to French-language broadcasting, always writing as if it did not exist. Fortunately, this is not the case of the Department of Canadian Heritage or the CRTC which recognize that English and French broadcasting operate under different conditions and have different requirements (see paragraph 3(1)c) of the Broadcasting Act). No doubt this is one of the reasons Michael Geist’s advice is taken with a grain of salt by the wiser heads responsible for Canadian broadcasting policy who also wish to take into account the needs of the French-language sector.

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