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The Liberal government wants to provide indefinite relief to legacy media after the $595 million federal bailout for journalism expires in 2024.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the Department of Canadian Heritage has not ruled out extending funding despite the bailout failing to save financially unviable outlets or prevent them from sinking.
“News companies have seen their revenues decline significantly, affecting coverage of our communities and institutions,” said Canadian Heritage spokesperson David Larose.
“The government is committed to supporting the long-term viability of Canada’s information sector, including through various tax measures and programs.
Several media companies have closed despite securing federal funding in the form of tax credits and payroll rebates for employees.
The Vancouver Mail, Canadian Jewish News and Argus stone wall have all stopped publishing since the bailout was first introduced in 2019.
Other outlets that have taken federal funding like Halifax Chronicle Herald ended up laying off their employees despite getting $13,750 per employee in payroll rebates and tax credits.
The Saltwire Network Inc., owner of the Chronicle Herald, laid off 111 employees on September 1, 2020, citing lost revenue during the pandemic. Former veteran employees have taken the matter to court in an ongoing lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal.
Canadian Heritage cited laws like Bill C-18, a bill that would require social media companies to pay media outlets, as part of its efforts to bolster traditional media.
“The bill will contribute to the sustainability of the news sector, including the sustainability of independent local news organizations,” said Larose.
Recent studies show that Canadians are rapidly losing trust in traditional media according to the University of Oxford’s Digital News Report 2022.
It was found that only 42% of Canadians trusted “most news”, which is a drop of 13% since 2016.