Ontario has a new Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. I wrote a letter to Minister MacLeod urging her to reinstate public funding to arts and culture, meaningfully consult artists, arts organizations and communities across Ontario, and implement supportive, inclusive and equitable policies.
Download the PDF here.
Honourable Minister MacLeod,
Congratulations on your new appointment as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. As the Culture Critic, I welcome you to an important portfolio.
Arts and culture are critical to daily life for Ontarians. Culture contributes to Ontario’s economy and tourism sector by creating jobs, generating revenue and attracting visitors to our province. The arts also help improve Ontarians’ quality of life, revitalize communities, and bring people from diverse backgrounds together. Arts education in particular creates a space for marginalized and vulnerable students to find belonging and self-expression. Money invested in the sector goes directly towards increasing opportunities for people to experience arts and culture and any reduction in funding means less dollars generated for the province. This is why almost 80 per cent of Ontarians believe that the government should spend public dollars to support the arts.
However, since your party formed government, there have been nothing but cuts to funding, including:
- $2.25 million in cuts to the Indigenous Culture Fund, which ended a program the province established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and eliminated the jobs of four Indigenous women;
- $10 million in cuts to Ontario Arts Council, which caused an immediate eight-per-cent across-the-board reduction in funding to operating grants to organizations;
- Slashing the Ontario Music Fund by more than 50 per cent, from $15 million to $7 million;
- $7 million in base funding cuts to Celebrate Ontario, which meant 71 fewer tourism and arts festivals received grants; and
- $59 million in cuts overall to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
These cuts have caused job losses, program cancellations, and left communities scrambling to find funding to keep summer festivals and events. This is why, on June 6, 2019, I tabled three motions calling for funding to be restored to the Indigenous Culture Fund, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Music Fund. I also tabled a motion last month calling for funding to be restored to the Ontario Library Service-North and Southern Ontario Library Service programs.
Minister MacLeod, you have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of Ontarians. I urge you to reinstate public funding to arts and culture, consult widely with artists, arts organizations and communities across Ontario, and implement supportive, inclusive and equitable policies and programs to keep the arts and culture sector alive and thriving for generations to come.
My office, NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, and the Ontario NDP Caucus will continue to advocate tirelessly for arts and culture.
I look forward to meeting with you in person to discuss these important issues while the house is in recess.
Dr. Jill Andrew, PhD
MPP, Toronto-St. Paul’s
NDP Official Opposition Culture Critic