The federal government has quietly backed down from its plans to implement a new digital services tax as of January 2024 that the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated would generate billions in revenue. It did not make the headlines or receive much promotion, but after months of insisting that a digital services tax would take effect in Canada in January 2024, the government has now removed that implementation deadline in the Fall Economic Statement. The battle over the proposed tax had sparked increasing anger between Canada and the U.S., with dozens of U.S. Senators and Representatives signing letters urging the government to delay its plans. The Canadian plan remains to establish a retroactive three percent tax that will hit a wide range of businesses, but given fears moving ahead now would jeopardize a global agreement that is designed to address the digital services tax issue, Canada has seemingly faced the obvious reality and backed down.
Bill C-18 Bailout: Government Announces Plans to Pay For 35% of Journalist Costs for News Outlets as It More Than Doubles Tax Credit Per Employee
The government has taken the first step to creating a bailout for its disastrous Bill C-18 by agreeing to News Media Canada demands to increase the support under the Labour Journalism Tax Credit. While the current system covers 25% of the journalist costs up to $55,000 per employee (or $13,750), the government’s fall economic statement increases both the percentage covered and cap per employee. Under the new system, which is retroactive to the start of this year, Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations (which covers print and digital but not broadcasters) can now claim 35% of the costs of journalist expenditures up to $85,000 per employee. The increases the support to up to $29,750 per employee or an increase of 116%. This new support will run for four years at a cost of $129 million ($60 million this year alone).
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 185: Bill C-11 at the CRTC – A Preview of the Upcoming Online Streaming Act Hearing
The much-anticipated Bill C-11 hearing opens this week at the CRTC. For the next three weeks, the Commission will hear from a wide range of stakeholders, including digital and legacy creators, Internet giants, telecom companies, and consumer groups. This hearing, which builds on an earlier consultation on registration requirements, will address issues that include mandated Internet streaming company contributions and discoverability requirements. What brought us to this moment and what lies ahead? This week’s Law Bytes podcast reviews the lengthy legislative process, the key players at the hearings, and how this consultation fits within the broader Bill C-11 framework.
Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge’s Tries to Re-Write Bill C-11 History: There Is No Quick Implementation and the Government is to Blame
The government plans to release its final policy direction on Bill C-11 today just days ahead of the start of a weeks-long series of hearings at the CRTC on the Online Streaming Act (I am scheduled to appear in early December). Ahead of the release, Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge tries to re-write history, urging fast enactment of the legislation and blaming the Conservatives for the delays. Yet here is the reality: Bill C-10, the predecessor to Bill C-11, would have become law back in 2021 had the government not opened the door to regulating user content. Instead, the bill rightly became a source of concern, leading to years of legislative delays that virtually guarantees that nothing will take effect until 2025 at the earliest.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 184: Philip Palmer on the Constitutional Doubts About the Government’s Internet Laws
Is the Canadian government’s Internet legislation constitutional? That question arose during the hearings on Bills C-11 and C-18, but has taken on a new urgency given the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision involving an Alberta challenge to federal environmental assessment legislation. With limits on federal powers back in the spotlight, the vulnerability of the legislation requires further examination.
Philip Palmer is a former Justice lawyer who appeared before the House of Commons committee studying Bill C-11 to make the case that the law does not fall within the scope of federal powers. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain why and what it might mean for the Internet streaming and online news laws.