April 17, 2024

Canadian publishers welcome modest increase to Canada Book Fund in Budget 2024, urge government to fulfill commitments on funding and copyright reform

The Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP) extends its appreciation to the Government of Canada for the one-time $10 million increase to the Canada Book Fund (CBF) announced in Budget 2024. This temporary funding boost will be administered over three years at approximately $3.3 million per year, beginning in 2024–25, and is intended to “elevate Canadian authors and stories both at home and abroad through increased supports for Canadian authors and book publishers.” 

While this funding top-up is a positive start, it is a fraction of the 50% permanent increase—approximately $19.2 million per year—promised in the Liberal Party’s 2021 election platform and the Prime Minister’s 2021 mandate letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. 

“ACP and its members welcome the temporary increase to the Canada Book Fund announced in the 2024 Federal Budget,” said Brian Lam, ACP’s President. “However, significantly more investment is needed in the coming years to address the systemic diminishment in impact of this program due to chronic under-funding. It has been over two decades since the base budget of the Canada Book Fund received a permanent increase, and its effective value has decreased by over 55%.”

ACP remains steadfast in calling on the government to fulfill their commitment to increasing the core budget of the CBF by at least 50%. Only a permanent investment will ensure the sustainability of Canada’s book publishing sector and the continued creation of Canadian literature and educational resources.

“Publishers deserve a funding program with a budget that is equal to the vital role that Canadian publishers play in our cultural, economic, and educational landscapes,” said Jack Illingworth, ACP’s Executive Director. “While this new investment is a welcome start, more concrete investment is needed to achieve the government’s stated goal of improving the competitiveness of Canadian books domestically and around the world.”

Furthermore, ACP is disappointed to see no action on copyright reform in Budget 2024. More than a decade of market damage stemming from changes to fair dealing in 2012 have resulted in over $220 million in lost licensing revenues for creators and publishers. This government’s continued lack of movement on this issue poses significant challenges for the educational publishing industry and jeopardizes the ability of publishers to invest in high-quality resources for Canadian educators and students. 

Canadian creators and publishers stress the urgent need for legislative changes to the Copyright Act to ensure fair remuneration for rightsholders and a sustainable educational book publishing industry. Prompt and decisive action clarifying fair dealing is necessary so that major failings in the Copyright Act identified in the 2019 statutory five-year review are addressed before the next review, which is expected to begin later this fall. If that does not happen, the purpose of the review process must be called into question.

“Copyright reform is essential to safeguarding the interests of creators and publishers, and to bring Canada closer to the international copyright standard from which it veered so far,” Illingworth said. “With the rapid growth of generative AI, publishers are facing new and complex copyright challenges everyday, all the while having to deal with a broken fair dealing system at the foundation. Now more than ever, we urge Ministers Champagne and St-Onge to prioritize legislative changes that will restore a functioning marketplace for educational publishers and support the continued growth of Canadian writing and publishing.”

As ACP continues to advocate for the interests of Canadian publishers, it remains committed to working collaboratively with the Government of Canada to address the pressing needs of the publishing industry and ensure its long-term sustainability.