On­tario an eco­nomic ‘pow­er­house’

MacLeod touts prov­ince’s thriv­ing cul­tural and tourism in­dus­tries

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - ROBERT BENZIE QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU CHIEF

Encore, encore.

The On­tario gov­ern­ment wants the prov­ince’s thriv­ing cul­tural and tourism in­dus­tries to re­ceive greater recog­ni­tion for their im­pact on the econ­omy.

In a speech to the Eco­nomic Club on Thurs­day, re­cently minted Her­itage, Sport, Tourism, and Cul­ture In­dus­tries Min­is­ter Lisa MacLeod touted “a pow­er­house that fu­els a spec­tac­u­lar dou­ble bot­tom line.”

“Both the fi­nan­cial bot­tom line in this prov­ince as well as the equally im­por­tant bot­tom line of our cul­tural fab­ric and iden­tity,” said MacLeod.

“To­gether — and this num­ber still amazes me — our her­itage, sport, tourism and cul­ture in­dus­tries achieve a com­bined eco­nomic im­print of an es­ti­mated $71 bil­lion,” the min­is­ter said.

“Let’s put this in con­text — $71 bil­lion is big­ger than the en­tire (gross do­mes­tic prod­uct) of Man­i­toba, $71 bil­lion is big­ger than On­tario’s min­ing, forestry and agri­cul­ture sec­tors put to­gether,” she said.

“All of this gen­er­ates more than $12 bil­lion for all lev­els of gov­ern­ment, sup­port­ing our schools, hos­pi­tals and key in­fra­struc­ture.”

MacLeod pointed out her new depart­ment in­vests $1.4 bil­lion an­nu­ally in pro­grams and agen­cies like On­tario Cre­ates, Des­ti­na­tion On­tario, On­tario Tril­lium Foun­da­tion, the On­tario Her­itage Trust, and the On­tario Arts Coun­cil “to sup­port a suite of in­dus­tries.”

The min­is­ter also un­der­scored the gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for the Art Gallery of On­tario, the Royal On­tario Mu­seum, the McMichael Gallery, the On­tario Sci­ence Cen­tre, Sci­ence North and the Royal Botan­i­cal Gar­dens, among other in­sti­tu­tions.

Prais­ing those who work in the sec­tor, she said it is im­por­tant that artists and others “are fi­nally being rec­og­nized by gov­ern­ment for putting pay cheques in peo­ple’s hands.”

“When you in­spire and cre­ate, you cre­ate jobs.”

In a bid to boldly go where no one in Premier Doug Ford’s 16month-old gov­ern­ment has gone be­fore, MacLeod praised the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada for the more 30 ma­jor film and TV pro­duc­tions on­go­ing right now.

“Later today they’ll be re­leas­ing an eco­nomic re­port show­ing that “Star Trek: Dis­cov­ery” spent more than $257 mil­lion in On­tario and em­ployed over 4,000 On­tar­i­ans in just the first two sea­sons of the pro­duc­tion,” the min­is­ter said.

MacLeod moved to al­lay fears in some quar­ters that the gov­ern­ment would slash the tax breaks that pro­mote the arts in its bid to rein in a deficit that was $7.4 bil­lion last year.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to sup­port ini­tia­tives like Cel­e­brate On­tario, the On­tario Mu­sic Fund, and our suite of five cul­tural me­dia tax cred­its, which in­clude three film and TV tax cred­its to cre­ate home­grown suc­cess sto­ries, while at the same time at­tract­ing in­vest­ments from abroad,” she said.

The min­is­ter un­der­scored the gov­ern­ment’s hopes for re­de­vel­op­ing On­tario Place, which this week was placed on a list of world her­itage sites that are at risk.

“I think we can all agree that, for decades, On­tario Place was a crown jewel of this prov­ince. Peo­ple from across On­tario, across Canada and across the world came here to en­joy the unique ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

“On­tario Place de­serves bet­ter be­cause the peo­ple of On­tario de­serve bet­ter than to have so much of this unique lo­ca­tion shut­tered and off-lim­its.”

To that end, the goal is “to build a world class fam­ily at­trac­tion at On­tario Place.”

“We are go­ing to get the re­build of On­tario Place right. We are go­ing to lis­ten to On­tar­i­ans.”

The gov­ern­ment is cur­rently re­view­ing re­cent bids for the re­de­vel­op­ment of the water­front park. The pro­pos­als have not yet been made pub­lic.

RICHARD LAUTENS TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Lisa MacLeod said Canada’s her­itage, sport, tourism and cul­ture in­dus­tries achieve a com­bined eco­nomic im­print of an es­ti­mated $71 bil­lion.

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