March 22, 2020

Update on plans to help publishers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Below is a note from President/CEO John Hinds with regards to the ongoing work being undertaken by News Media Canada, in tandem with the federal government, to assist news publishers during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have specific questions, please contact John by email at: jhinds@newsmediacanada.ca

Dear members of News Media Canada,

I want to provide you with a quick update on the association’s activities as the industry faces very difficult times.

Over the past 10 days we have been working with Ottawa on measures to support our members. We have spent a lot of time providing them with information on the impact that the current crisis is having on the industry, and making them aware that the industry cannot sustain the current losses that it is experiencing. We have also made them aware that the timeline for many companies is very short.

To date, we have had a number of very productive meetings with federal officials, not only with political staff and officials at the Department of Canadian Heritage, but with the Department of Finance as well.

We have suggested a number of options and we hope that they will make announcements in the very near future.

When the federal government announced funds be allocated to the Public Health Agency to provide information to Canadians, we immediately wrote to the president of the Agency and strongly urged them to spend that money with our members. We also received support for the campaign and we are hopeful they will deliver.

We have followed up with a proposal to the government where the industry would work collectively through the association to make it easy for the government to place ads with our members and we will be pursuing this approach with the various advertising arms of the government over the next few days.

We also understand that our members need financial support quickly to deal with the crisis and we have been speaking to government about how they can do this.

Federal officials have indicated that they are looking at expanding existing programs. We have suggested that expanding programs like the Aid to Publishers, or the Journalism Tax Credit, would be helpful ways to provide support. We have also asked them to make the payments claimed for the tax credit for last year available immediately to members.

The government has extended the deadline for this year’s Aid to Publishers program but has assured us they will make every effort to issue cheques as soon as possible.

We also recognize that members will need access to credit. We have asked that the federal government explore ways of extending credit to the industry. As well, we have asked for payroll support beyond the 10 per cent wage subsidy for small business that was announced earlier this past week.

If there are any other areas that you think we should explore, please let me know. We will provide you and the membership with additional information as soon as it becomes available.

I recognize this is a very difficult and challenging time and I hope you, your staff and families are all well.

- John Hinds
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