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14064 18 Dec 2020

Re-emerging as a Global Leader through Ontario’s Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

Reconnecting Ontarians: An action plan for economic and social recovery

Ontario's Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries is responsible for overseeing the social, economic and cultural activities across sectors that are key to Ontarios success. It operates with a clear mandate to improve quality of life and promote economic growth by supporting and delivering tourism and cultural experiences, supporting the arts and cultural industries and championing participation in sport and recreation activities across Ontario.

The Ministry oversees and is accountable for some of the province's best-known cultural institutions that together attract millions of visitors every year, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The Ministry also promotes the preservation of the provinces natural beauty through the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Niagara Parks Commission and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. Through the Ontario Heritage Trust and iconic sites like Ontario Place, Fort William Historical Park, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, and Discovery Harbour, we preserve Ontarios heritage for generations to come. We teach Ontarios children about science at our world-class facilities, the Ontario Science Centre and Science North. Finally, we help bring the world to Ontario at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Ottawa Convention Centre.

In every corner of the province, the Ministry partners with local communities to support cultural festivals and events, promote the arts and creative economy, realize economic opportunities from tourism and champion active lifestyles, sport and recreation.

In 2020, the Ministry supported more than 250 festivals, 176 heritage organizations, 375 public libraries, 166 community museums, 13 regional tourism organizations, and the provinces Indigenous sport and wellness programs.

With support from the Ministry's agencies Ontario Creates, the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Destination Ontario our programs support the best Ontario has to offer. Our musicians top charts. Our athletes top podiums. Our film and television productions top ratings, and our top tourism destinations are recognized across the globe.

All together these sectors represent the largest volunteer force in the country that work to support the ultimate small business sector, while building some of the most recognizable brands on the planet.



We provide grants to organizations working to preserve Ontario's rich history for generations to come. As well, together with our agency, the Ontario Heritage Trust, the Ministry is encouraging more Ontarians than ever to engage with our provinces heritage through signature programs and activities. These supports include grants and programs like Provincial Heritage Organization Grants, and the Heritage Organization Development Grants. The Ontario Heritage Trust also helps Ontarians learn about our provinces rich history through its over 90 heritage properties and the Ontario Heritage Act Register and iconic events like Doors Open Ontario.



Our Ministry offers unparalleled support for sport and recreation, sport hosting, and our professional and amateur athletes. In addition to supporting 66 Provincial Sport partners through the Ontario Amateur Sport Fund, we are investing in Ontario athletes from playground to podium. Quest for Gold, Games Ontario, and the Ontario Sport Hosting Program support Ontario athletes competing at the highest levels. We also encourage sport and recreation in Indigenous communities through the Sport Pathway for Ontario Native Wellness, Youth Cultural Camps and the Community Aboriginal Recreation Activator Program. Through programs like these, sport and recreation will continue to be at the heart of Ontarios communities.



The Ministry supports Ontario's tourism industry through our agency, Destination Ontario, and as the primary funder of Ontarios 13 Regional Tourism Organizations. Tourism is a vital part of Ontario's economy, and it will be a vital part of our recovery. Funds like the Tourism Economic Development and Recovery Fund and the Reconnect Festival and Event Program are helping the sector begin its path to recovery. Our support extends through a variety of programs and grants, including Celebrate Ontario and the Ontario Signature Experiences Program.



Our Ministry supports Ontario's vibrant culture through its agencies, including the Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Creates, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Ministry funds cultural attractions and major events, as well as a wide variety of grants that support arts and cultural industries in communities across the province. Supporting cultural programming is a central part of our mandate, from public libraries across Ontario to community museums, and we do that through programs like the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and Community Museum Operating Grants. We support public libraries through a number of grants, including the Public Library Operating, Pay Equity and the First Nations Salary Supplement Grants.

Additionally, the Ontario Trillium Foundation through an annual allocation in excess of $100 million supports communities across Ontario through Seed, Grow and Capital Grants, the new Resilient Communities Fund, and the Youth Opportunities Fund to support thousands of non-profit organizations working to improve our communities across the province. Through our $60 million annual support for the Ontario Arts Council, our Ministry continues to invest in the provinces social fabric that our artists and creators work to strengthen each and every day.

The Ministry also supports our creative sectors through a suite of five cultural media tax credits administered through our agency, Ontario Creates. Through numerous granting programs and tax credits, Ontario Creates works with the Ministry to grow capacity in Ontarios film and television, book and magazine publishing, interactive digital media and music production sectors to create jobs for thousands of above and below the line talent across the province.


The Ontario we all want to see is an Ontario that combines a growing economy with a diverse, dynamic and vibrant culture that enriches our quality of life.

Like all other parts of our society, the sectors overseen by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries were already grappling with wide-ranging social and technological changes. These changes, which challenged traditional business models and assumptions upon which these sectors operated, were well underway before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely continue long after we overcome this current moment of crisis.

The pandemic has led to a short-term shutdown of many businesses and lost jobs across these sectors while fundamentally changing customer behaviors and further accelerating sectoral changes that were already underway.

The Ontario government operates on the understanding that the best ideas for sustainable economic growth cannot and will not originate from inside of government but must be driven by the experiences, anxieties, frustrations and aspirations of the people and businesses who work in these sectors every day.

In March 2020, with this goal in mind, Minister Lisa MacLeod convened 14 Ministerial Advisory Councils (MACs) comprised of those who have the most at stake in seeing these sectors not only survive the current crisis but emerge in the best possible position for long-term growth and success.


Ministerial Advisory Councils Recommendations and Actions Taken

The Ontario government values the expertise of members of Ministerial Advisory Councils whose contributions help ensure their industries are well-positioned to re-emerge faster and recover successfully from the effects of the outbreak, to stabilize Ontarios economy and prepare for the road ahead. Ontario is delivering on recommendations from each of the Ministerial Advisory Council reports:

Airlines and Airports Council

  • Advocating on behalf of the airlines and airports to shape policy and initiatives emerging from the Federal Government which largely regulates the industry.
  • Developing a travel incentive program to encourage Ontarians to engage in travel and tourism.

Amateur Sport and Recreation Council

  • Establishing a Community Building Fund to work with organizations in supporting infrastructure upgrades as recommended to promote growth of sport and recreation in Ontario.
  • Providing flexibility to funded organizations that deliver community-level programming (i.e. After School Program and Indigenous programs) to continue to serve their communities, contributing to essential services and activities that are helping Ontarians deal with the health, social and economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Committing to annual funding levels for sport and recreation sector organizations to ensure no loss of funding.
  • Entering into a renewed bilateral agreement with the Federal Government that includes emergency COVID funding support to PSOs, including advocating for Ontarios fair share.
  • Committing funding to system supports, including OHPSI and OASF as well as direct to athletes through the QFG program and for events through Sport Hosting.

Arts and Culture "Toronto Big 8" Council

  • Providing clear timelines and guidelines for reopening.

Festivals, Events and Local Community Attractions Council

  • Implementing measures to allow tourism businesses to expand alcohol licensed areas, retail sales channels and revenue-generating opportunities, such as allowing licensed boats to provide alcohol services while docked and permitting the addition of a physical extension to their boats for the duration of 2020.
  • Coordinating tourism dollars to initiatives that promote collaboration within the industry between RTOs, DMOs, sector associations, and operators, such as a $13 million funding partnership between Destination Ontario and Destination Canada to support locally-driven marketing initiatives to incentivize Ontarians to explore and promote local communities.

Film and Television Council

  • Expediting processing of tax credit certification to reduce tax credit wait times.
  • Working with Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLSTD) to improve film and television training opportunities for workers.

Hoteliers and Hospitality Council

  • Removing restrictions/barriers that impede industry, introducing innovative thinking to outdoor dining spaces serving food and alcoholic beverages.
  • Proposing a cap on third-party delivery platforms.

Interactive Digital Media Council

  • Expediting processing of OIDMTC certification to reduce tax credit wait times.
  • Temporarily extending the 37-month claim period for eligible expenditures for the OIDMTC (included in Budget 2020).

Ministry Attractions and Agencies Council

  • Implementing new, online digital service offerings and programs.
  • Leveraging opportunities to deepen collaboration on key initiatives and projects.
  • Providing targeted funding to help agencies and attractions navigate the pandemic and continue to keep visitors safe.

Music Council

  • Advocating with the federal government for continued relief and support to the live music industry.

Professional Sport Council

  • Convening a working group with team representatives from five of Ontarios professional sport leagues and teams to support the safe reopening of professional sport.

Tourism Leaders Council

  • Providing support to businesses and operators to help mitigate the additional costs of health and safety items.
  • Improving access to broadband in order to provide digital/virtual services.


A path to action

From the earliest days of the pandemic, these councils met directly with the Minister and senior officials in the Ministry to share their ideas and perspectives for what a true recovery and re-emergence looks like. These perspectives along with the ideas heard throughout the Ministers extensive consultations, have informed a broad-based recovery strategy centered around multi-year planning that includes 15 proposals.


Action Item # 1 The Redevelopment of Ontario Place as a World-Class, Year-Round Destination

As Ontario Place marks its 50th anniversary, it will be central to the recovery of heritage, culture, recreation and tourism for all Ontarians post pandemic both as a tourism destination but also as a display of our strong cultural identity in Ontario. Through the ongoing Call for Development process, the government received submissions from around the world to help achieve this vision and bring the site back to life. The development of Ontario Place will encourage investment while ensuring that this unique site on Torontos waterfront will once again become the crown jewel of the province. The government is transforming Ontario Place into a world-class, year-round destination that will attract local, provincial and international visitors and could include exciting sport and entertainment landmarks, public spaces and parks, recreational facilities and retail.

As we modernize the grounds, key heritage and recreational features will remain, such as the Cinesphere, the pods, Trillium Park and the William G. Davis Trail.

Action Item # 2 Building Back Stronger in our Communities

Ontario's heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries are in every community across the province and our museums, galleries, not-for-profits, and sport organizations all need help which is why our recovery will be focused on community building. The government will reinforce the work of the Ontario Trillium Foundations annual $103 million budget with an additional $100 million investment over the next two years to best support not for profits who deliver important results in our neighbourhoods.

The Community Building Fund will invest $100 million over two years to support community tourism, cultural, sport and recreation organizations that are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the pandemic. The fund will be administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) with two streams:

Supports for local community tourism, heritage and culture not-for-profits, such as community museums, local theatres, fairs and cultural institutions, to help sustain their operations in the short term and create new attractions, experiences and events

Funding for municipalities, Indigenous communities, charitable and non-profit sport and recreation organizations to make investments in infrastructure rehabilitation and renovation in order to operate sport and recreation facilities and meet public health protocols and local community needs.

Action Item # 3 Recognizing the Contributions of Ontarians

Each year, the Ministry recognizes thousands of Ontarians who have selflessly contributed their time and expertise to the advancement of their fellow Ontarians. Given the current and likely future challenges with respect to social gatherings, we will be streamlining, modernizing and expanding how we recognize volunteer contributions across Ontario through our volunteer service awards.

The Ontario Volunteer Service Awards recognize individuals for continuous years of volunteer service at a single organization, such as hospitals, seniors centres and community associations. Volunteers contribute to a wide range of services in Ontario, including supporting seniors and adults through Meals on Wheels, building up communities through local Lions Clubs, and much more. The June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism, in memory of the late June Callwood, recognizes the outstanding volunteer contributions of individuals and groups who make Ontario communities a better place to live and work.

Action Item # 4 Broaden Ontarios Volunteer Base

Ontario's heritage, sport, tourism and culture sectors mobilize Canadas largest volunteer base. To best support Premier Doug Fords vision for increased volunteerism in Ontario, the Ministry will work in a whole-of-government approach.

As announced in the 2020 Ontario Budget, the government intends to develop a new organization to oversee a Provincial Emergency Volunteer Unit. This organization will develop and oversee a pool of volunteers who pre-register to help during an emergency. It will be tasked with recruiting volunteers from diverse backgrounds, including age, geography and skillset. The organization will primarily focus on large-scale emergencies such as natural disasters or health crises but will be tasked with investigating how it can support the broader volunteer sector and sustain the culture of volunteerism demonstrated by the Ontario Spirit this year.

The government will consult with the volunteer sector this winter and outline a plan to launch this organization in the spring budget.

Action Item # 5 Promote Safety and Excellence in Sport

In sport, we will strengthen the relationship between the Ministry and our provincial sport partners. Our overall goal will be to help the sport sector recover post pandemic, to instill confidence in parents that it is safe to play, to inspire children and youth to be active and to best equip our high-performance athletes for competitions around the world. The mental and physical well being of our athletes will be top of mind and we will build on the successful Rowans Law approach for concussions as part of achieving this goal.

In working with our amateur sports partners we identified a number of key opportunities and we will work together to achieve them.

Action Item # 6 Restore Confidence and Strengthen Inclusivity in Sport, Culture, Volunteerism and Tourism

We will leverage our relationships with our professional sports organizations and our key arts and cultural institutions to rebuild confidence in sport and culture after a prolonged pandemic. We will rely on our tourism operators and businesses to implement best practices and ensure training for staff to deliver safe and quality experiences.

Ontario will highlight unique, authentic tourism experiences across the province, including Francophone and Indigenous tourism. Key to restoring confidence with resuming these activities safely will be a commitment to equity and accessibility for all Ontarians.

Action Item # 7 Compete for Global Festivals, Events and Conferences

Ontario will be positioned to host prominent festivals, events and conferences, including international sport competitions such as the 2026 FIFA Men's World Cup while enhancing programming in our communities. We will rebuild our capacity for sport hosting to increase the number of opportunities and scale of events that Ontario attracts and, ultimately, establish the province as the destination of choice for marquee amateur sport events. This will require centralizing and increasing our funding streams for programs like Celebrate Ontario and Ontario Sport Hosting.

This strengthened and redesigned festival, event, and sport hosting program will respond to evolving industry requirements. Pre-COVID, every $1 of Celebrate Ontario funding resulted in almost $21 of visitor spending. Post-COVID, our festivals, celebrations, and sport hosting events will be key to our economic and social recovery, and therefore will receive strategic investment and thoughtful consideration.

Action Item # 8 Strengthen Ontario's Commitment to the Creative Industries

The Ministry will continue to work with its Film and TV Advisory Council to ensure we invest in Canadian content, increase our film-friendly locations, and support the development of crews and talent.

The Ministry will maintain the stability of the province's five cultural media tax credits.

  • Ontario Book Publishing Tax Credit
  • Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit
  • Ontario Production Services Tax Credit
  • Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit
  • Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit

Tax credits encourage production in the film, television, interactive digital media and book publishing industries. They play an important role in increasing economic activity and job creation in Ontario while also enhancing the provinces cultural profile.

During COVID-19, Ontario is ensuring cultural media tax credits and other program supports remain stable while working to streamline the time it takes to process them.

Action Item # 9 Create Regional Equity in Film and Television Production

Eastern and southwestern Ontario are presently underrepresented in film production. The Ministry will work with the sector to develop a strategy to identify film-friendly locations, build incentives for production and develop talent.

Creating enhanced opportunities for regional production will support a greater diversity of stories and creative talent and help create film and television industry jobs and investment in these regions. It would also facilitate the creation of new Ontario-made content that can be exported for audiences to enjoy worldwide, further building up Ontario companies and accruing economic and cultural benefits for the province.

Action Item # 10 Skills Development / Redevelopment in Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Industries

The Ministry will continue to work with the ministries of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Colleges and Universities to support their investment in reskilling those whose tourism jobs have changed or shuttered while also creating training opportunities for growth potential in our creative industries.

The governments additional investment of $180.5 million in employment services and training programs, including apprenticeships, micro-credentials, and second-career programs will benefit businesses and workers in the tourism, hospitality and cultural industries, including the film and television, interactive digital media, and music industries as they adapt to changes in their sectors, ensuring that the workforce has the skills needed for success.

Action Item # 11 Capitalize on Emerging Creative Industries Markets

In interactive digital media and video gaming, the Ministry will continue to pursue opportunities to work with the Ministry's other partners particularly in tourism and culture industries to re-emerge from the pandemic. The interactive digital media and video game sector can be engaged to help stakeholders and sectors served by the Ministry expand and enhance their capacity to provide state-of-the-art online experiences to audiences and customers. Examples include:

Virtual reality tours of Ontario attractions and communities, featuring immersive experiences to provide "online tourists" with memorable experiences, linked to revenue opportunities such as merchandise and gift card sales.

Helping Ontario's film, television, music and publishing companies create virtual marketplaces and VR-driven performances that profile their products to global buyers and fans.

The Ministry will also maximize opportunities from the development of an iGaming strategy in Ontario to support this emerging market.

Action Item # 12 Protect Ontarios Core Cultural Institutions

Through the Ontario Arts Council, the Ministry will deliver $25 million in one-time emergency support to Ontario's core arts organizations to help them cover operating losses incurred as a result of COVID-19 and prepare for a time when they can fully re-open their facilities, resume full programming and welcome back visitors and audiences.

A further investment for the Ministry's attractions and agencies will be made to support Ontarios iconic institutions, such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Niagara and St. Lawrence Parks Commissions, Ontario Science Centre and Science North.

Action Item # 13 Reconnect Ontarians

A travel incentive will be offered in 2021 to encourage hyperlocal tourism that reconnects Ontarians with each other and to their communities when it is safe to do so.

Through Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, Ontario is committing to provide Ontario residents with support of up to 20% for eligible Ontario tourism expenses to encourage them to safely discover Ontario in 2021, the year of the Ontario staycation. The government is setting aside $150 million for this initiative and will be consulting with stakeholders about the details.

Providing a travel incentive will help encourage Ontarians to choose travel within Ontario and explore their own backyard. This will be an important part of supporting business sustainability and keeping Ontario competitive within the industry.

Action Item # 14 Develop a Year-Round, Globally Competitive Suite of Products

To kick start tourism in Ontario, Destination Ontario in partnership with the RTOs and other tourism organizations will develop a plan to attract tourists to the province through our gateway cities Ottawa and Toronto and to Ontario's unique rural and remote tourism offerings. They will also be tasked with helping operators build a competitive and ambitious 365-day, year-round suite of products to ensure tourism opportunities in every Ontario season.

To remain globally competitive, we will create tourism trails to profile Indigenous, LGBTQ+ and Francophone tourism, enhance craft and culinary experiences, develop film and television, music, playhouse, and festival and event experiences. The Ministry invites all partners in all sectors of the Ministry to participate in this exciting opportunity.

Action Item # 15 Open Ontario up for Business and Visitors

We will work with the Ministry's agencies, including the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Ottawa's Shaw Centre, to bring business travel and conventions back to our national and provincial capitals in a post-COVID environment. We will continue to stabalize their operations with an eye to compete for global events and conventions when it is safe to do so.

We will modernize the Ontario Travel Information Centres (OTICs) to amplify our pride of people, pride of place and pride of local products. Destination Ontario operates 11 OTICs nine year-round and two seasonal across the province. The Ministry will identify options and opportunities to modernize visitor services offered through the OTICs, including evolving the traditional model to deliver information services in a new, modern and customer-focused way that promotes tourism and Ontario-made products.