2021 Ontario Pre-Budget Submission by MusicOntario

Posted on
February 12, 2021

Ontario Pre-Budget Submission
By: MusicOntario
February 11, 2021

The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy
Minister of Finance

c/o Budget Secretariat
Frost Building North, 3rd floor
95 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario  M7A 1Z1

Sent via email: submissions@ontario.ca
cc: Minister.MacLeod@ontario.ca

Dear Minister:

MusicOntario thanks the Government of Ontario for its leadership during this COVID-19 crisis. We also thank the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Lisa MacLeod, for her continued engagement with stakeholders as many of our industries have been at a stand-still for 11 months now.

A recent report by the Canadian Independent Music Association shows that Canada’s independent music sector has lost almost 2,000 FTE jobs, and has seen a decline in revenue of CAD $233 million in just the first six months of the pandemic. Estimates show that our industry will not recover to pre-COVID levels until at least 2023-2024, and not without additional flexible emergency supports.

Ontario represents the lion’s share of this data, and our music industry continues to suffer immensely from closures of businesses and borders while companies operate at drastically reduced revenues, and artists are unable to work, despite desire to do so. Recent second wave lockdowns have brought live streaming and sound recording to a screeching halt, effectively putting an end to the monetizable work so many had pivoted to.

In this time of need, we are asking the Ontario government to provide a much-needed boost in flexible funding to the industry, to provide the resources needed to invest in our artists, preserve jobs and keep our small businesses open so that they may emerge on the other side of this pandemic, ready to re-enter the competitive global market.


That the Ontario Government progressively increase the Ontario Music Investment Fund’s annual budget to $15 million.

The Ontario Government has long been a strong partner for the independent music industry, the heart and soul of which is in our province, with the Ontario Music Industry Fund (OMIF) being a critical source of investment and access to capital.

The OMIF is uniquely an economic development fund specifically for the music sector, supporting companies to leverage their own investments in order to develop artists, create jobs, and sustain the benefits of resulting Intellectual Property (IP) via sound recordings here in Ontario for decades to come. The commercialization of this IP by our sector guarantees an important return on investments into our economy and into the pockets of Ontarians; truly, a renewable resource culturally and economically.

Long-term support measures are integral to the full recovery and success of the sector. Government has a key role to play over the next two years to help maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose cash flow and short-term operational viability have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While revenues are down, our companies and their employees continue to be busy and working to not only ensure there is Ontario content to be released, but to pivot to our new reality and we reimagine our industry and strategize recovery.

We applaud Premier Ford’s leadership during this time of crisis and have been buoyed by his statements that your government will spare no expense to help the small business community recover.

In that spirit, we ask the government to relieve the stress on the Ontario music industry’s small businesses, including music companies, emerging and established artists, and the entrepreneurs who lead them by partnering with the sector, by restoring the Ontario Music Investment Fund to its original budget of $15 million annually to help our industry recover.


That the Ontario Government support Canadian Live Music Association’s recommendations in their Live Music Industry Recovery Plan

MusicOntario whole-heartedly supports and echoes the recommendations in the Canadian Live Music Association’s Live Music Industry Recovery Plan, which succinctly outlines the urgent measures needed to ensure there is a live music industry to return to after COVID-19.


Consultation with the independent music sector to review relief and skills training funds flowing through multi-sectoral agencies

It has been heartening to see influxes of relief dollars to Ontario Trillium Fund and Ontario Arts Council, two important agencies with impeccable bodies of work. However, these are agencies not specific to the music sector, which truly was the first to close and will be among the very last to reopen. As of this letter, there is one program available for OAC’s music stream, and no foreseeable deadlines for OTF. It bears noting that the nuanced barriers to entry to these streams do not replace a strategic investment fund such as the OMIF.

Our sector would be happy to advise on how retrofitting of parameters, deadlines, and eligibility criteria for relief funds flowed through these bodies might make them more accessible to music companies, artists, and the not for profits that support them.

Our sector is also available as a resource in advising on any allocation of skills training funds designed to prepare Ontarians to re-enter the workforce with full toolkits. Professional development is crucial in the recovery of our sector, and it is equally important that these initiatives be industry-led, identified, and implemented.


On behalf of MusicOntario’s membership and network of engaged constituents, we would once again like to thank you for your time and consideration of our pre-budget submission. If you have any questions or comments, I invite you to contact me at emy@music-ontario.ca. We look forward to growing a strong, dynamic independent music sector together in Ontario.

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