Friday, September 16, 2011

Ontario election: with jobs as a focus, why is there not more discussion of the cultural sector?

Jobs are a central theme of the Ontario election campaign: Ontario Liberals delivering 300 clean-energy jobs for Windsor is today’s headline for the governing party; yesterday, it was Creating jobs for Sudbury. And so it has gone since the start of the campaign. The jobs theme is a little less pronounced for the Progressive Conservatives (focusing of late on wasteful spending and sexual predators), but they also declare the Ontario PC Party has a real jobs plan that will give all workers an equal chance to succeed. The NDP pledges to create a post of Jobs Commissioner, a position they say will bring stakeholders together when lay-offs are announced to explore alternatives.

Recognizing the size of the cultural workforce in Ontario and the 252,300 jobs it represents according to Statistics Canada, it’s noteworthy that none of the parties in Ontario’s provincial election have yet put forward a cultural platform. This, despite the fact that the cultural sector is a major economic driver contributing almost $20 billion to Ontario’s GDP.

Save the Liberals’ attention brought to the Ontario-India Film partnership during TIFF and the importance of tax incentives to that industry, there has been no discussion of the place of arts and culture in this election campaign.

We’re not yet at the half-way point of this campaign, so there is still lots of time to hear what the parties might have in mind for arts and culture. Hopes are high in the cultural sector that we will.

If history serves as a guide, both the Liberals and the PCs issued stand alone cultural platforms in 2007. The NDP have always been more vague, making pledges to strengthen Status of the Artist.

We’ll keep you posted.