Federal Budget 2017

For the second year running, the Federal government is investing oodles of dollars in Canada’s cultural sector, including long-term funding for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund and almost $90 million in new money for Indigenous languages and culture. Yes, some of the funding identified in yesterday’s federal budget is a re-commitment of dollars announced last year. But there’s also lots of new investment. Here’s how it all shakes out:

Budget 2017 includes year 2 of the increased funding ($20 million dollars over two years) for the Parks Canada National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places. Ditto for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund ($168.2 million over two years). Both were announced last year

Yesterday’s budget also includes significant NEW funding for the Cultural Spaces Fund - $300 million over the next ten years, starting in 2018. While this is great news, 11 years (10 year commitment plus one year before it kicks in) is a very, very ... very long time in politics and there’s no guarantee this promise will remain intact through changes in priorities, policy and/or political parties. FYI, this fund supports the creation and/or renovation of cultural spaces, the purchase of arts and/or heritage-related equipment, and the commissioning of feasibility studies.

1,600 new positions will be added to the Young Canada Works in Heritage program, between now and 2019.

$89.9-million in new money over three years to support Indigenous languages and cultures. This includes $23-million per year for the Aboriginal Languages Initiative and $14.9 million allocated to Library and Archives Canada for the digitization of existing Indigenous language and cultural materials, including the development of an Aboriginal Oral Testimonies Project.

$8.6 million over four years for the development of the Indigenous tourism industry.

Parks Canada has been promised $364 million over two years (beginning in 2018-19) to manage national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites.

$1.8 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018, to promote arts and culture. The majority of that money, $1.3 billion, will be provided to provinces and territories through bilateral agreements. Details to come.

Items not directly related to heritage, but could benefit our sector include:

$5 billion over 11 years for a new national housing fund, some of which built heritage peeps hope will be directed to renovations, retrofits and affordable housing in heritage buildings.

An additional infusion of $77 million over 10 years for the Enabling Accessibility Fund which supports the construction and/or renovation of public spaces to make them more accessible. Eligible projects of interest to public heritage facilities include adding ramps, automatic door openers and accessible washrooms. The fund also supports the addition of accessible information and communication technologies, which could help make interpretation more accessible.