The countdown to March 31, 2009 has begun. That’s the date when Canada Post Corporation’s annual $15-million contribution to the Publications Assistance Program ceases. There is no chance this deadline will be further extended or that Canada Post will change its mind, says Scott Shortliffe, DCH’s periodical publishing policy and programs director.
The Department of Canadian Heritage is in the final stages of preparing a number of proposal documents that will be made publicly available to the magazine industry in the “near future.” The release of the documents will be followed by “extensive consultations” about possible changes to PAP.
In a phone interview this afternoon, Shortliffe was hesitant to reveal details or to set a date when the proposals will be made available. “We had hoped that we would be announcing things before Christmas,” he said. “Inevitably other things came up, but we’re getting close now…We’re looking at the very near future. I’m not talking about three months from now.
“What I can say now is we’re looking for a very open conversation with the industry about the future of the programs,” Shortliffe said. “We intend to make some proposals to guide our discussion but they will be just that—proposals.”
Based on Shortliffe’s comments, it seems unlikely that DCH will simply make up the $15-million loss to the PAP fund with more government funding. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any need for consultation. As it stands, DCH contributes $45-million to the fund.