On March 28 the Government of Canada announced its 2023 budget entitled A Made-in-Canada Plan: Strong Middle Class, Affordable Economy, Healthy Future.
The BC Museums Association has reviewed the announcement and highlighted five important takeaways for the arts, culture, and heritage sector.
Where to Access the 2023 Federal Budget
The new budget has three main pillars:
- Making Life More Affordable
- Stronger Public Health and Dental Care
- Growing a Green Economy
Of the three pillars, Growing a Green Economy best applies to the arts, culture, and heritage sector, specifically promised investments in infrastructure, major projects, and emissions reduction. Within these key pillars, the government outlines a number of measures they intend to use to achieve these goals (for example, a new grocery rebate, cracking down on predatory lending, making life more affordable for students, etc.). Those that speak directly to the arts, culture, and heritage sector are outlined below.
Relevant Takeaways for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Organizations
#1 – A New Federal Tourism Growth Strategy
The 2023 budget promises that the Government of Canada will work with the tourism industry and provincial/territorial governments to develop a new tourism growth strategy. As part of the strategy, Regional Development Agencies will receive $108 million over three years to support communities, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations to develop local projects and events. It also promises $50 million over three years for Destination Canada to attract major events and conferences.
#2 – New Resources to Fight Systemic Racism, Discrimination, and Hate
The budget announces the following to support anti-racism and social justice in Canada:
- $85 million over four years to launch Canada’s new Anti-Racism Strategy;
- $100 million over five years to launch the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan;
- $200 million to establish the Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund, and create a sustainable source of funding to support Black communities;
- Up to $265 million over four years for the Black Entrepreneurship Program;
- $18 million over two years to support the Canadian Race Relations Foundation in delivering grants for community-level interventions to combat racism in the pandemic;
- $21.5 million to enhance legal supports for racialized communities;
- Implemented the “nothing without us” Accessible Canada Act to realize a barrier-free Canada for persons with disabilities by 2040.
The government has also announced additional funding for Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, which includes $600,000 in ongoing funding for the Department of Canadian Heritage.
#3 – Support for Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage
The federal government supports opportunities for local artists, artisans, and heritage performers through festivals, events, and projects under the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program. This includes Indigenous cultural celebrations and the celebration of 2SLGBTQI+ communities. The 2023 budget includes $14 million over two years, starting in 2024/25, for this program.
#4 – Pockets of Funding Announced for Arts, Culture, and Heritage
Pockets of funding relevant to the arts, culture, and heritage sector announced in the 2023 budget include:
- $33.5 billion for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to support new investments in public transit; green infrastructure; community, culture and recreation infrastructure; and rural and northern communities;
- $10 million in funding for Canada’s six national museums to support immediate building maintenance. It also includes an additional $53 million over the next two years to support Canada’s national museums and the national battlefield commission.
- $28 million in support for the National Arts Centre in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 fiscal years.
#5 – Funding Relating to Indigenous Arts, Culture, and Heritage
The Gottfriedson Band Class Settlement Agreement has provided $2.8 billion to support healing, wellness, education, heritage, language, and commemoration activities. The 2023 budget allocates $2 billion of this to help redress the harms that continue to impact Indigenous communities as the result of the residential school system.
More information about the settlement and disbursement of funds can be found in this January 2023 media release.
What Isn’t in the 2023 Budget
Similar to the recently announced BC Government budget, the arts, culture, and heritage sector does not play a significant role in the 2023 federal budget. While new investment in the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program is welcome, the majority of relevant funding referenced goes towards either the tourism sector or a handful of federally-owned museums and heritage sites. We are also disappointed there is no new funding announced to support actioning the recommendations of the Canadian Museums Association’s Moved to Action report that would support the arts, culture, and heritage of Indigenous communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
In the BCMA’s 2022 response to the federal budget, we noted the Government of Canada did not commit to modernizing Canada’s national museum policy. Since then, the Department of Canadian Heritage has embarked on a country-wide consultation process to update the national museum policy (reminder – the Museum Policy Public Survey is still open and accepting submissions).
While it is a good sign this review is underway, no new funding was announced in the 2023 budget for critical areas like modernizing the Museum Assistance Program (MAP) budget, emergency preparedness for arts, culture, and heritage organizations, supporting repatriation/rematriation, or helping create new Indigenous museums or cultural centres.
We will end this 2023 budget response in a manner very similar to that of last years. Despite many new initiatives announced in the 2023 budget, the document does not offer a vision for how Canada’s arts, culture, and heritage sector can contribute to the fight against existential challenges of our time.
Arts, culture, and heritage help Canadians reflect on who we are and imagine who we can be. From building a more sustainable future, to supporting anti-racism in our communities, to contributing to a prosperous society, to being an ally in reconciliation, our sector has critical roles to play in bringing communities together to collectively imagine what this change will be.
We urge our members to write their local, provincial, and federal representatives to let them know that museums matter and our sector is an ally in building a better Canada.
If you are interested in new resources for effective government advocacy, we encourage you to visit the Alberta Museums Association’s new Reconsidering Museums advocacy toolkit.