Potential double-digit increases in Publications Mail could have a negative impact on the Publications Assistance Program (PAP).

CCNA Executive Director Serge Lavoie met with officials at the Department of Canadian Heritage (DCH) on Oct. 4. DCH is in charge of the PAP program.

At that meeting, Lavoie said he learned that DCH was in final negotiations with Canada Post to come up with rates for Publications Mail for the next few years and that In keeping with recent announcements, Canada post is seeking two rate increases – one effective April 1, 2002, the other effective nine months later on January 1, 2003. Further, Canada Post will have regular increases in January of each year.

“We are expecting a low double-digit increase in Publications Mail rates,” said CCNA Executive Director Serge Lavoie. “This could have a negative impact on the PAP program because that program has a very limited sum of money.

“The final negotiated rate for 2002 is still several weeks away,” he said.

The Canada Post rate increases come at a time when DCH is reviewing the PAP. The total subsidy of the PAP rests at about $46.4 million per year. That number is not scheduled to increase.

Currently, of the $46.4 million distributed, 408 ‘small community weekly newspapers’ with a total volume of mailings of 26.8 million pieces receive $4.1 million in subsidies. In contrast, TV Guide receives $2.9 million, representing eight per cent of the total program, just two per cent less than the entire community newspaper industry.

Fewer than five per cent of the publications receiving subsidy receive more than 60 per cent of the total funds.

Lavoie said that since Department of Canadian Heritage is currently reviewing the program, there is a real chance that the funds could be distributed more equitably. This may be accomplished by judging publications by weighting factors and/or other means.