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Canadians oppose Internet tax: Survey

Canadians oppose Internet tax: Survey 

The IRG poll found that 70 per cent of Canadians is opposed to an Internet tax, compared with just 14 per cent in favour.

The poll, which was commissioned by OpenMedia, an advocacy group that champions an open, free, and affordable Internet, was conducted between January 27th, 2016 to February 1st, 2017 and queried 2,304 Canadian respondents. The survey asked respondents about the potential for the Federal government to create a new revenue source to support Canadian media content (CanCon)

Creating and promoting CanCon in media consumed in the country has always been a struggle. With Canadian media outlets competing in the global Internet, revenue for CanCon has been dwindling.

Heritage Minister Melanie Joly has been working to find a way to fund CanCon and the options being reviewed by Joly and Finance Minister Bill Morneau included extending the GST/HST to foreign digital services; the introduction of what could be a called a ‘Netflix tax” that would require online video services to contribute part of their revenues towards the creation of CanCon; and the creation of new tax on Internet service providers.

Some media industry representatives that met with Joly last fall are pushing for an Internet service provider tax to cover the cost of creating CanCon.

According to OpenMedia, groups such as the Canadian Media Producers Association and Writers Guild of Canada have been pushing the Internet tax idea. However, consumer advocate groups and Internet experts argue that Internet service providers would likely pass on.

According to Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, such a move could cost Canadian taxpayers as much as $500 million a year.

The IRG poll found that overall, respondents are supportive of the federal government creating a new revenue source for CanCon. Fifty-three support the idea, and 20 per cent are opposed.

Asked about specific options:

  • A large majority (70 per cent, including 51 per cent strongly opposed) are opposed to the option of creating a new tax on internet and mobile phone bills.
  • On the option of extending GST/HST to foreign online companies, 47 per cent said they would support the option if revenues were directed to CanCon. Twenty-nine per cent were opposed.
  • A majority oppose the Internet tax option no matter their party affiliation (60 per cent of NDPers, 63 per cent of Liberals, and 74 per cent of Conservatives opposed)

In her talk before the Canadian Media Producers Association last week, Joly said Canadians told her they want all media producers treated equally, but they don’t want their Internet bills to go up.

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