Canadian Heritage develops, implements, and maintains publishing policies and programs in support of books to help create a stronger publishing industry in Canada.

For more than a century, the Government of Canada has had programs and policies to support the production, distribution and marketing of Canadian books that reflect Canada's unique and dynamic culture. This support is premised on the belief that Canadians must have access to Canadian voices and Canadian stories. Looking to the future, the cultural sector must continue to adapt so as to benefit fully from a changing global economy. For the Government of Canada, this means searching for innovative ways to support publishers so they can take advantage of opportunities available both at home and abroad.

The book publishing industry is supported by various direct assistance programs and regulatory measures. Since the 1970's, the Government of Canada has provided direct assistance through programs such as the Block Grant Program at the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canada Book Fund at the Department of Canadian Heritage. This assistance continues to help Canadian-owned and -controlled firms to grow, and enables them to undertake the principal activity of producing and distributing Canadian-authored books.

Federal measures designed to support the book industry include the parallel importation regulations which, through the Copyright Act, protect agreements for the distribution of imported books in the Canadian market.

Finally, the foreign investment policy in book publishing and distribution generally favours Canadian ownership within the Canadian book publishing industry while setting out undertakings that would be suitable in the case of indirect acquisitions. The Investment Canada Act requires that foreign investments be compatible with national cultural policies, among others, and be of net benefit to Canada. Policy guidelines in the book industry are as follows:

  • foreign investment in new business enterprises is limited to Canadian-controlled joint ventures;
  • acquisition of an existing Canadian-controlled business by a non-Canadian is not permitted. Under extraordinary circumstances, the Government may consider an exception to this guideline;
  • if a non-Canadian wishes to sell an existing Canadian business independent of any other transaction, the vendor is expected to ensure that potential Canadian investors have full and fair opportunity to purchase; and
  • indirect acquisitions are reviewed to determine whether they are likely to be of net benefit to Canada and are assessed on their merits in relation to relevant factors set out in Section 20 of the Act.