Community MediaPublished on 29 November 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Claudette Tardif (retired)
Hon. Claudette Tardif:
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with the Association de la presse francophone, the Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada, and the Quebec Community Newspaper Association, whose members, together, serve two million Canadians in every province and territory of Canada. Unfortunately, many of these community media find themselves in very precarious circumstances as a result of the loss of approximately $10 million in federal advertising since 2006. Some community radio stations no longer have employees. Minister, the current situation for minority community media is urgent. How does the government intend to reinvest in the community media sector, which is an essential sector for the sustainability and vitality of official language minority communities?
Hon. Mélanie Joly, P.C., M.P., Minister of Canadian Heritage: Thank you, Senator, for your very pertinent question. At the same time that we began public consultations on the digital shift, we also held public consultations concerning the Official Languages Act. My parliamentary secretary and I visited 22 cities, and 5,000 people participated in the consultations. We heard that our minority language communities are worried about the future of community media. As we draft a new official languages action plan, which will consider the different needs of minority language communities and groups, we are also looking to adopt a new approach to better address the challenges associated with the media and entertainment sectors.
In 2017, I will address these issues after we have presented our new official languages action plan and once I have comprehensively reviewed the cultural policy to support Canada’s media and entertainment sectors. I have clearly heard the alarm sounded by the various stakeholders.
Senator Tardif: Thank you for your response, minister. I hope that, in your plan, you take into account the need for improved digitization and Internet access in rural and remote areas, which still do not have those services, and that you make investments in human infrastructure to ensure the digital transition.
Ms. Joly: As the senator knows, I am working with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, on the digital shift.
In Budget 2016, we allocated $500 million for digital infrastructure to enhance connectivity in rural and remote communities.
This issue is of major concern to me. We know that technological change has a transformative effect on how people consume information and entertainment, but we also know that many communities are not well served in terms of connectivity and digital infrastructure.
That is why my colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and I are working to foster a holistic, concerted approach to this issue.