OTTAWA – Heritage Minister Melanie Joly says the marquee $500 million Netflix investment rolled out as part of the government's just-announced vision for cultural policy is new money that’ll be spent on fully Canadian creations.
After days of questioning, Joly finally filled out details of the controversial Netflix deal, and what it means in terms of new Canadian content and production.
"This is not supporting service production… This is new money for Canadian productions," said Joly in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.
On Thursday, Joly unveiled the federal government’s new vision for cultural policy in Canada. The marquee portion of the "Creative Canada" announcement was a $500 million agreement with Netflix to set up a Netflix Canada production house that, over five years, will invest in original Canadian productions, as well as $25 million for French-language content.
In the interview, Joly said that Netflix will be expected to produce fully Canadian shows with members of Canada's creative sector, like filmmakers, writers, and actors, and not just supporting service production, which is what’s common now—American shows shooting content in Canada, using Canadian crews.
"Of course Netflix has been present in our landscape because they’ve been shooting American films in Vancouver and Toronto, but now they will be investing in Canadian productions," she said.
"That's why it's great. It’s $500 million of new money," she said, explaining that, although the company told the government in 2016 it commissioned "hundreds of millions of dollars of original programming produced in Canada," this is different, and will help the creators that were never really assisted by American shows being shot here.
Joly said that the government took this investment approach instead of a Netflix tax, to make sure there was money to spend in the sector while insuring that Canadians’ internet bills weren’t bigger at the end of the month.
It’s a model Joly said she’d like to see replicated by other digital producers.
Also part of the agreement, Netflix will help viewers find Canadian shows by including "vignette of Canadian content" on its site, Joly said.
The specifics on how the deal and Netflix’s investment will be monitored have yet to come forward, but Joly says that the government will be able to enforce fines, if needed, through the Investment Canada Act.