Notes for a speech to the House of Commons, Bill C-7

October 01, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased rise today in support of Bill C-7, which proposes amendments to the Museums Act in order to create the Canadian Museum of History.

All Canadians deserve to benefit from the richness of our history. For the first time, Canada will have a National museum dedicated to telling our country’s stories. Our Government is proud to support Canada’s museums as they are important vehicles of our cultural and social history.

Mr. Speaker, Canada’s museums are also important instruments of culture. They generate important economic benefit for local and national economies. Museums help drive economic activity in many ways, including block buster exhibitions and as general tourist attractions.

It is well known that that local, national, and international visitors tour our museums, and the institutions themselves contribute immensely to our country’s economic wellbeing.

According to the latest Statistics Canada data, this last decade has witnessed a strong increase in the number of museum visits by Canadians.

Up until 1998, only a third of Canadians (32.3%) visited a museum every year. Today, almost three-quarters of Canadian’s visit a museum in Canada each year.1

This is a clear sign that Canadians want to learn about their history, and consider these cultural institutions Canadian treasures.

Canadians recognize that Canada’s museums are world class, and cultural treasures. According to the Canadian Museums Association, ninety six percent of Canadians believe that museums contribute to the quality of life of our nation.

According to the same study, ninety seven percent said that they believed that museums do an excellent job of preserving and presenting our history.

Many would be surprised to know that there are over twenty five hundred museums in Canada that welcomed more than twenty seven million visitors in 2009, and this legislation will make it easier for smaller museums outside our nation’s capital to get new exhibits.

For the first time, Canada’s largest museum will have the ability to share a part of its collection with smaller museums across the country.

These smaller museums will now be able to exhibit new collections of Canadian cultural artifacts for Canadians who do not have the opportunity to come to Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to note that in 2010 domestic tourism to museums by Canadians alone, helped to generate over $3.4 billion into the Canadian economy.

Spending by foreign tourists to museums added another $1.75 billion to the Canadian economy.

Mr. Speaker, the figures I just quoted include benefits of many other industries from spending by tourists who visit museums, comprising commercial airlines, hotels, restaurants as well as retail shops and numbers of others that help accommodate tourists travelling to our local and national museums across the country.

I would also like to bring attention to the employment generated by museums. __ Speaker, Canadian museums employ over twenty five thousand people across the country.1

I should also note that there are over forty thousand volunteer workers who dedicate hundreds of thousands of person years in these same museums. I’d like to thank all of these volunteers for their hard work in helping tell part of our history.
Without the hard work of volunteers from across Canada who give part of their time to keep our museums running, they would simply not be able to share our stories with Canadians and visitors each year.

Furthermore, the incredible number of volunteers demonstrates how much Canadians care about the success of our museums as institutions that tell our stories.

Museums are job creators and support the economic wellbeing of many Canadians across the country

One example I would like to share with the House today, is the economic impact of the Renoir Exhibition hosted by the National Gallery of Canada in 1997.

Mr. Speaker, close to $33.2 million was spent in Ontario and Quebec by visitors whose main reason was visit the Renoir Exhibition.2

Approximately 825 jobs were required to produce the $33.2 million in goods and services directly associated with the Renoir Exhibition.

In other words Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate, that if the Renoir Exhibition had not been at the National Gallery of Canada, the two provinces would not have enjoyed the economic benefits of $33.2 million in value added, additional jobs, wages and salaries, and tax revenues created by direct consumer spending.

It is also estimated that the taxes directly associated with the Renoir Exhibition totalled almost $12.7 million for all three levels of government combined.

In my home province of Ontario in 2010, 3.4 million tourists visited museums or art galleries. In 2010, arts and culture tourists spent $1.1 billion dollars on lodging, $1.1 billion on food and beverages, $600 million on retail, and $500 million on entertainment and recreation.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said earlier, the economic impact of museums and cultural spaces across this country is undeniable.

With that, I am confident that the new Canadian Museum of History will similarly benefit from the interest of all Canadians and others who wish to learn and experience Canada’s vast and rich history, through newly created programs and exhibitions soon to be provided by the Canadian Museum of History.

Our government is very proud of this country’s museums.

That’s why we’ve opened two new museums since forming government, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax.

We have also increased funding for summer internships for students in small and medium-sized museums.
This year, some 1,600 students will be hired to work and learn in museums across the country. This is a strong record that our government will continue to build on.

To conclude, as we approach Canada’s 150th birthday, Canadians will have a new museum that will highlight the moments, the people, and the objects that have shaped our great country.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that all members will support Bill C-7 in order to create the Canadian Museum of History and help tell the stories of this great nation.