March 28, 2023

Budget 2023: Government commitments to invest in Canadian book industry and repair the Copyright Act go unfulfilled yet again

The Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) is discouraged by the absence of new investment in the Canada Book Fund and continued inaction on copyright reform in Budget 2023. These ongoing delays by the government in implementing its own commitments in these areas is of particular concern at a time when the industry is challenged to keep pace with innovative business practices and remain competitive.

The Liberal Party of Canada committed to increasing the Canada Book Fund in its 2021 election platform, a promise that was also included in the Prime Minister’s December 2021 mandate letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez. 2023 marks the second budget cycle in which the government has failed to meet its own commitment; the program has not seen new investment in over two decades, and its real value has eroded more than 55% since 2001. ACP is left to question the government’s promise and commitment to long-term support for the program and the domestic publishing industry it supports, which has consistently contributed to Canada’s economy and culture

The lack of investment in the CBF takes place in the context of broader marketplace challenges. After more than a decade of market damage stemming from changes to the Copyright Act in 2012, resulting in more than $200M in lost licensing revenues, ACP was encouraged by the Government’s 2022 budget commitment to ensure that the Copyright Act promotes fair remuneration of creators and rightsholders for use of copyright-protected material, and that the educational publishing industry is sustainable. With no signs of legislative reform on the horizon, Canadian publishers fear that this is yet another promise that will go unfulfilled.

“Canadian book publishers play an essential role in Canada’s literary and education ecosystems and have contributed to building Canada’s reputation on the world stage,” said ACP President Ruth Linka. “Though book publishers are by nature optimists, taking risks and investing in new authors and illustrators, new technologies and new markets each season, we are discouraged by the government’s apparent indifference to the realities of today’s marketplace. The erosion of the CBF and copyright will result in fewer Canadian books published, fewer jobs in Canadian communities, and more revenue flowing to multinational companies based outside our borders.”

Executive Director Jack Illingworth adds: “For more than fifty years, government policy and strategic investment has contributed to building an industry that is recognized around the world for the high quality of its work and as an essential vehicle for Canadian writing to reach readers. The neglect of key programs and policies that have contributed to that success is disappointing. The time for renewed investment, and for copyright reform, is now. We will continue to advocate for action on these issues to the government, which are key to the success of one of Canada’s most vital cultural industries.”

For more information:
Jack Illingworth, Executive Director