Culture and Heritage Priorities Discussed at Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Culture and Heritage

Ministers focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the culture and heritage sector and how to best support recovery and growth 

EDMONTON, AB, May 21, 2021 /CNW/ – Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers responsible for culture and heritage held their annual meeting to discuss common priorities for 2021-2022. The meeting was co-hosted by the Honourable Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women for Alberta, and the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s meeting took place virtually and included a virtual showcase on Alberta’s rich culture and heritage.

The focus of this year’s meeting centred on government leadership during the COVID-19 crisis as well as discussions on ways to help support and rebuild the sector in the wake of shutdowns and delays. FPT Ministers responsible for culture and heritage have remained in close contact following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and have met an additional four times since March 30, 2020.

Ministers agreed that strong governmental leadership and collaboration is key to ensuring a healthy and successful rebound for Canada’s culture and heritage sector. In particular, performing arts, festivals and events, music venues and arts organizations continue to feel the significant impacts of the pandemic. These sectors were among the first and hardest hit, and recovery of these sectors will play an integral role in the economic and social recovery across Canada.

Through collaboration, FPT governments have helped to identify challenges and support the diverse needs of the culture and heritage sector, including recognizing the importance of supporting the culture and heritage of Indigenous peoples.

While the culture and heritage sector has suffered hardships throughout the pandemic, Ministers agreed that resilience, ingenuity and creativity has been on full display. Federal, provincial and territorial representatives shared lessons learned, best practices and emerging ideas, especially around digital cultural experiences and products.

Provinces and territories acknowledged the value of emergency funds set up by the different governments to support the sector.

The Ministers recognized the cultural sector as a driving force for economic and social development and the need to promote the sustainable recovery of activities.

Several jurisdictions presented their recovery plans aimed at building resilience and supporting adaptation and innovation. The Ministers agreed on the importance of understanding the needs of the sector and working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders; as well as the need to work towards greater equity, diversity and inclusion. Alberta, as co-chair, hosted a virtual showcase of artists and performers to demonstrate the province’s rich and diverse cultural sector.

Aware that the impact of COVID-19 will continue to influence the work of the table in the near term, Ministers agreed that their collaborative work for the next five years (2021-2022 to 2025-2026) will be centred on three strategic priorities:

    • Strengthening the creative economy of Canada;
    • Strengthening the culture and heritage resources of Canada;
    • Strengthening culture and heritage engagement and promotion in Canada.

Discussions also centred on how to ensure that more inclusive and equitable experiences are included in the creation, production and distribution of Canadian art and culture. Ministers agreed that celebrating diversity and supporting racialized communities is a cornerstone in combating discrimination and racism.

On May 14, 2021, provincial and territorial ministers of culture and heritage met in advance of the May 21 federal-provincial-territorial meeting. Provincial and territorial ministers discussed the ongoing need for robust intergovernmental collaboration with the federal government to support the sustainability and recovery of the arts, culture and heritage sectors as they emerge from the pandemic. Provincial and territorial ministers also discussed various perspectives regarding the development of federal heritage legislation and the national museum policy. Ministers agreed that provinces and territories must be continually engaged as the federal government moves forward on pan-Canadian initiatives.

Before the FPT meeting, ministers met with leaders of four National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs). Discussions highlighted the importance of the ongoing exchange of information and dialogue, noting it is valuable for all parties and for continuing to build relations. NIO leaders emphasized that revitalizing indigenous languages and cultures is a significant and high priority. 

Newfoundland and Labrador will host the next ministers’ meeting in 2022.


“There is no better time for in-depth discussions on the issues facing our arts, culture and heritage sectors than during this annual meeting, which represents our entire country. It provides us not only with a Canada-wide overview of issues of concern shared across the country, but also with region-specific insights and success stories experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. By continuing this collaboration, our governments will help ensure Canadian sectors will be in a position to succeed in 2021.”

—The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“It is a privilege to showcase the unique diversity of Alberta with my counterparts. The annual meeting on Culture and Heritage has been a good opportunity for us to share our successes and learn from each other, as we endeavour to support our cultural and heritage industries during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. We all appreciate the creativity, innovation and resiliency of these sectors, and look forward to seeing them thrive in the near future.”

—The Honourable Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

Quick Facts

Culture brings wide benefits to Canadians and their communities, while making a significant contribution to the nation’s economy. Culture gross domestic product (GDP) in Canada in 2020 was $52.2 billion, which is 9 percent less than the $57.5 billion in 2019.

The total number of culture jobs in the last quarter of 2020 (596,281) decreased 11 percent compared to the last quarter of 2019 (671,764).

The cultural sector was severely impacted during the pandemic and the provincial, territorial and federal governments moved quickly and effectively to provide adequate support to help the various cultural sectors recover.

SOURCE Canadian Heritage

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