Public Investment in Canadian Publishing

The establishment and growth of an independent, Canadian-owned book publishing industry has been made possible in part by judicious government investment and far-sighted public policy. Over the past several decades, a number of complementary federal measures have been established to ensure that Canada’s publishing sector remains both economically competitive and culturally vibrant.  Together these funding programs, policies, and regulations ensure that Canadians have access to the fullest possible range of books for entertainment, information, and education.

Canada Book Fund

The Canada Book Fund (CBF), a sales-based program administered by the Book Policy and Programs division of the Department of Canadian Heritage, has been rigorously developed and administered to support Canadian-owned publishers who employ best business practices, commit to innovation, and aggressively promote Canadian authors at home and internationally. CBF support allows publishers to both invest in the publication of new works by Canadian authors and ensure that these books are priced competitively when compared to the imported titles that dominate the Canadian market. The standards for success within the program are high; for those publishers who meet them, the CBF is an essential support that ensures their businesses remain competitive, and that a diverse, Canadian-owned publishing sector thrives in all regions of the country.

CBF is one of the most effective tools the government provides to book publishers, and it has proven its value year after year. Though the program was stabilized in 2014, its total budget remains $39.1M per year—the same level as in 2001. Since then, inflation, rapidly changing market conditions, and government policy decisions have combined to limit Canadian publishers’ competitiveness, while high demand has led to some CBF programs being oversubscribed.

Increased investment in the fund would enable publishers in all regions across Canada to invest in the publication of new Canadian works, engage in the digital marketplace, pursue strategic collective initiatives, and bring Canadian books to international markets.

In December 2016, the federal Standing Committee on Finance recommended that the Canada Book Fund be increased

Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts administers a number of programs that support the writing and publishing of Canadian literary works. For Canadian-owned book publishers, the Block Grant program complements the sales-oriented Canada Book Fund, and like all Canada Council programs, grants are awarded through a stringent peer assessment process. Funding is awarded to those firms that demonstrate cultural value and excellence across a range of criteria, and this support builds their capacity to invest in the publication and promotion of culturally important works. In turn these books help foster Canadian culture, identity, and heritage, to the benefit of all Canadians.