Quebec must take action
Better late than never, as the saying goes.
It is with this perspective that the federal government set aside $595 million over five years to support the media through three tax credits: one that can be applied to the payroll expenditures of newsrooms, one for online subscriptions to Canadian news outlets, and a third for charitable donations to news outlets designated as non-profit organizations. The eligibility criteria was defined over the summer, so we can expect the first cheques to be sent out to media outlets in the next few months—hopefully, it won’t be too late.
In late August, Quebec’s provincial government will establish a parliamentary committee on the future of the province’s media. More specifically, it will focus on preserving the public’s right to information. The committee could lead to measures to support news outlets; what they will consist of remains to be seen.
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Already, by subjecting Big Tech to Quebec’s provincial sales tax and setting aside $64.7 million over five years to help print media move towards digitization, the Quebec government is taking steps in the right direction.
It is also worth noting that the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion to bring back substantial investments in Quebec’s news media. This is another measure that will help the province’s press outlets without impacting the journalistic independence they need to properly carry out their work.
What else could be done?
The Quebec government could follow Ottawa’s lead by implementing tax credits for the payroll expenses of media outlets. This could help fund the production of information without interfering with the editorial process. In the cultural sector, such tax credits are already available to people working in the movie, television and book publishing industries. Local news outlets fulfill a cultural role and should have access to a similar form of financial assistance.