Advocacy update – COVID-19

A couple of days ago, the CMA wrote to three federal ministers requesting a dedicated museum relief fund to support lost revenues and well as an emergency development fund for museum digital activities.

Health and safety is of course everyone's first priority, however the CMA’s role must also be focused on the well-being of the sector. This means advocating for museums and asking for clarity from government when it is required, as it is now. As the Prime Minister said in his recent address, "Some sectors are more vulnerable than others so in the coming days we will be looking at ways that we can support them all."

I am pleased to report that yesterday we received an encouraging call from the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Minister Guilbeault expressed his great concern for the museum sector during this difficult time.

Museums will be pleased to hear that the Minister said his department will be showing greater flexibility regarding funded activities for museums across the country. He encouraged museums to visit the department’s webpage and to reach out to their program officers for further details regarding these flexibilities.

He also shared other positive news with us: that the CMA’s funding in support of the museum sector (for example, through a multi-year agreement to deliver the Young Canada Works Program) is being secured. We know how much the sector depends on this program.

Finally, Minister Guilbeault encouraged us to follow up on the recent announcement made by the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, regarding the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan for elements that will be of particular interest to museums and museum workers, such as wage subsidies, the waiving of EI wait periods, etc.

Please note that Minister Guilbeault expressed determination to move forward on the National Museum Policy as well, in due course, which will hopefully provide additional relief for the sector in the longer term.

We will continue to explore how the federal government’s relief initiatives may assist Canadian museums in this time of crisis and keep you informed.

In the meantime, however, we would like to take a moment to commend the museum community for its incredible dedication and hard work. The commitment of museums to public safety has not gone unnoticed. And one only has to browse social media channels to see how museums are being held up as a bright place during a dark time.

More than ever, we are very proud to represent you.

Stay safe and bright,

Vanda Vitali, Ph.D.
Executive Director & CEO, Canadian Museums Association