Bill C-11: Senate improves Canada’s broadcasting laws
The House of Commons recognized the Senate’s meaningful contributions to Bill C-11, supporting a large majority of its proposed amendments.
The Government introduced Bill C-11 in February 2022, following through on an election promise for the first major reform of the Broadcasting Act in more than 30 years. The goal was to bring streaming services into the regulatory fold, in an effort to ensure they contribute in an equitable and flexible way to the creation and availability of Canadian content. Among other measures, the legislation prioritized support for content from francophone, Indigenous, LGBTQ2+ and racialized creators.
The Senate’s Role
Senator Dennis Dawson, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, noted the importance of this legislation for the vitality of Canada’s cultural sector. The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communication undertook an exhaustive study of Bill C-11 between June and December of 2022, hearing from nearly 140 witnesses. In total, the committee held 31 meetings, including nine meetings of clause-by-clause consideration. The committee adopted 26 amendments, which were endorsed by the Senate as a whole, including measures to:
- Strengthen the protection of privacy;
- Promote innovation;
- Maintain the vital role of independent producers in our broadcasting system;
- Support the production of more original French language programming;
- Standardize references to Black and racialized communities throughout the bill; and
- Enhance the accountability of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by having its reports tabled in Parliament.
The Government secured endorsement from the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois to accept 20 of 26 amendments proposed by the Senate, including two with modifications. Notably, the House of Commons accepted amendments proposed by senators in all four recognized groups in the Senate.
The Senate recognized that implementing legislation to modernize the Broadcasting Act reflected a key electoral commitment of the Government, and formed part of the electoral commitments made by the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois during the most recent federal election. On April 27, the Senate accepted the decision of the elected chamber, ushering in a new broadcasting regime fit for the 21st century.