Fall economic statement includes $600mn for print media

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In a move that has prompted the Conservatives to cry foul, saying that such a plan made so close to elections is unfair. Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a plan to allocate $600 million in tax measures over five years to help the struggling print media in particular. The idea is to help struggling media companies adapt to a digital age that has disrupted traditional business models.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government wants to protect the “vital role that independent news media play in our democracy and in our communities.”

This plan will allow non-profit news organizations to accept donations and issue tax receipts to donors. Charitable journalism operations will have to release content for free under a creative commons licence, which the government hopes will have a knock-on effect for local news organizations that can post the stories or incorporate them into their own journalism. The plan is expected to help publishers expand their local community coverage and play a vital role they have traditionally played.

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The plan also includes a new refundable tax credit for labour costs at both for-profit and non-profit news organizations. To determine eligibility for the credit, the government plans to create an independent panel drawn from the “news and journalism community,” which will also “define and promote core journalism standards (and) define professional journalism.”

The other highlights of Morneau’s fiscal update are as follows:

• Growth: 2 per cent forecast next year (up from 1.6) and slightly higher inflation
• Unemployment rate: 5.8 per cent next year, down from 5.9
• Projected deficit: $18.1 billion for current fiscal year
• Revised 2017-2018 deficit: $19 billion, down $0.9 billion
• Debt: Expected to grow by $96.7 billion to $765 billion by 2023-24
• Debt-to-GDP ratio projected to fall each year, to 28.5 by 2023-24
• New measures announced today: $17.6 billion over 6 years
• Biggest move: $14.4 billion to allow businesses to write off some capital costs more quickly
• Trade: Infrastructure spending moved up and other measures to promote trade with the goal being to boost overseas exports by 50 per cent by 2025

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Already national media organizations as well as local and ethnic newspaper publishers are working on ways to ensure they can be eligible for the financial assistance.

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