The Writers’ Union of Canada Calls for a Cultural Focus in Federal Campaigns

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For Immediate Release:

The Writers’ Union of Canada Calls for a Cultural Focus in Federal Campaigns

Toronto – The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) encourages all parties and all candidates in the October 19th election to focus on culture and why cultural issues matter.“Canadian culture matters to Canadians because it offers a roadmap through the swamp of managed messaging,” said TWUC Chair, Heather Menzies. “It serves as a compass too, pointing to what’s important in a free, democratic society founded on the principles of mutual respect and recognition.”

With most of the election focus on economic issues, TWUC reminds all candidates that cultural creation and cultural consumption are also vital to Canada’s economy, as well as to the well-being of its citizens, and the common good. Right now, however, our culture is suffering economically.

TWUC’s main concerns are as follows:

1. Funding for Canada’s cultural creators is inadequate, and the cultural economy reflects this. A recent TWUC study found, for instance, that Canada’s writers make 27% less from their writing than they did in 1998 (see below for more detail). All parties should commit to increased funding through various established and new mechanisms.

2. 2012’s Copyright Modernization Act caused sweeping, if unintended, damage to cultural creation in Canada without benefiting students or teachers.  The evidence is now in on that damage, with an initial $30 million loss in licensing income and no attendant benefit to end-users. Canadian teachers and students are now less likely to study Canadian works than before (see below for more detail). All parties should commit to an immediate and substantive review of the 2012 Copyright Act changes.

3. Self-employed writers and artists have incomes that can fluctuate dramatically from year to year, and are often punished for their success in a given year because of inflexible tax policy. All parties should commit toprogressive tax provisions to encourage cultural creation.

“This is not just about funding or taxes,” stressed Menzies. “It’s about the sustainability of creation in Canada. We want to hear questions about sustaining Canada’s creative industries at all of the leader debates and all-candidates meetings.”

From The Writers’ Union of Canada’s recent income survey report:
  • Today’s writer does more to earn less. Taking inflation into account, writers are making 27% less than they were making in 1998 from their writing, while 45% of writers say they must do more to earn a living now.
  • The work of writers fuels an almost 2 billion dollar industry, and yet more than 80% earn an income from their writing that is below the poverty line.
  • Women, who represent the majority in the industry, earn 55% of the income male writers do.
In a recent survey by 11 Canadian-owned higher-education publishers searching for 55 of their books in 10 university libraries, they found:
  • the titles were found only 20% of the time in digital form;
  • the titles were found in any form only 69% of the time;
  • the titles were not found at all in any form 31% of the time.
The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.


For additional information:

Heather Menzies, Chair
The Writers’ Union of Canada
[email protected]

John Degen,
Executive Director                                                    
416.703.8982 Ext. 221
[email protected]

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