Buy local – or your vendor will soon disappear

TORONTO – Finally, someone in government get’s it”. Ontario’s Finance Minister, Peter Bethenfalvy, on July 3, 2024, issued a letter to four of the Province’s major agencies (Ontario lottery Gaming Corporation, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, the LCBO, and Metrolinx). In it, he instructs them to direct 25% of their ad buy to newspaper publishers based in Ontario

Clearly, not every publisher only those that are in possession of a qualifying professional designation, the QCJO (Qualified Canadian Journalism Organization). This is issued and “administered” by the Canadian Revenue Agency).

For the Corriere Canadese, launched on June 2, 1954, 70 years ago – now the third longest surviving daily newspaper in Toronto and the only one in the Italian language in North America – this initiative makes sense. The initiative, though slow in coming, is welcome because it is not an eleemosynary exercise but an investment in an Ontario/Canadian industry. It is our money being spent to inform us what our political system is doing with the resources we give them.

Minister Bethenfalvy would appear to share that view; he writes: “The Government of Ontario is making [,,,] commitments with our own advertising spending, helping to provide […] support for Ontario jobs and promote Ontario culture”.

An1drew McLeod, president of Postmedia, publisher of numerous dailies and periodicals, agrees that the impact could be significant, because the Ontario government spends circa $100 million annually; guaranteeing that 25% of that money will go to the print side of the news industry may prove a real boost. Without appearing ungrateful, the federal government, has adopted a different tactic.

Recent  Annual Reports [to Parliament] have indicated 95% of Federal advertising spending being directed to extra-territorial Tech giants, while only $944,000 went to the entire print news industry in the country (2022-23). That is not serious policy-making. 

Like our cousins in the mainstream media and fellow members of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, we have been making this point for years. Just last week, we reprinted an edited version of a presentation we made before the House of Commons Heritage Committee, May 31, 2016.

On an aside, because the agencies and government will have to establish criteria for a pro rata basis to inform the distribution of the ad buy, we point out that, notwithstanding the changing demographic character of Immigration, Italians still comprise one million of Ontario’s fourteen million inhabitants (Census 2021).

Minister Bethenfalvy’s letter says that an implementation plan must be ready by September 3, 2024. Moreover, the directive will be reviewed quarterly thereafter. As a caution to those tempted to “break out the Prosecco”, the letter says that, if the plan is not working to meet the objectives of “promoting local content and culture and supporting Ontario jobs,” the government may withdraw the funding direction.

 Here above, the commemorative print of the first page of Corriere Canadese published in June, 1954 (all around, Corriere Canadese’s pages today)