September 17, 2020

Letter in advance of the Speech from the Throne

Below is a letter sent on September 14, 2020 to Prime Minister and the Minister of Canadian Heritage in advance of the September 23, 2020 Speech from the Throne.

For more information, please see our related announcement.

The Right Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
The Hon. Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Canadian Heritage
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

September 14, 2020

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau/Minister Guilbeault:

On behalf of the Canadian Museums Association (CMA), we are writing to you in advance of the September 23, 2020 Speech from the Throne.

The CMA believes that museums are at the heart of a just and knowledgeable society. They educate and inspire. They create a sense of community and belonging. They allow us to better understand our past, our present and shape our future. They build empathy and understanding for each other, and remind us how diversity makes us stronger.

Given the significant impact the current COVID-19 pandemic has had on all Canadians – in all regions – such benefits to Canadian citizens are now more important than ever. And as the federal government seeks to restart the economy in order to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic and societal benefits of museums must be recognized as part of the recovery solution.

Yet a major challenge remains: Canada’s over 30-year old national museum policy is drastically out of date. It simply doesn’t reflect a modern Canada – nor the Canadian museums sector. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, the review of the national museum policy, which was included in the mandate letter of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, has yet to be advanced.

We respectfully request that this commitment be re-stated in the upcoming Speech from the Throne. The CMA stands ready to help lead this initiative with – or on behalf of – the Department of Canadian Heritage and museums across Canada.

We submit, furthermore, that this review is particularly imperative and should be prioritized because of the pandemic. With a modern policy in place, museums would be much better positioned to weather and survive challenges of this nature.

There is also a strong economic argument to fulfill this commitment. Canada boasts some 2700 museums, cultural heritage and science centres. A new study conducted by Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Ottawa Declaration Working Group, co-led by Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Museums Association (CMA), found that museums contribute significantly to the Canadian economy and societal well-being. For example:

  • For every dollar invested in museums, Canadian society gets $4 in benefits.
  • Museums provide $2.9 billion per year in economic benefits.
  • Museums provide a value of $1.2 billion per year in educational benefits and $277 million per year in value of online visits.

In collaboration with our provincial and territorial colleagues, the CMA has consistently advocated the need for a review of the national museum policy. We remain steadfastly behind this urgent requirement, and we are prepared to play a central role with Canada’s museum community.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. We would be pleased to meet to discuss these issues in detail at your convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Jack Lohman, President, Board of Directors, CMA

Vanda Vitali, Ph. D., Executive Director, CMA


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