Unifor calls federal government deal with Google over Online News Act a step in the right direction


TORONTO – Unifor says yesterday’s announcement by the federal government to forge a path forward with Google by implementing the Online News Act and keeping local and national news content accessible for Canadians is encouraging, and the union eagerly awaits to see the finalized regulations.

“We are pleased to hear the government held its ground and Canadians can continue to access quality journalism on Google, which is so critical for the fabric of our society and for democracy,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “It is also a significant step in the right direction for tech giants, like Google and others, to pay their fair share and support local news.”

The Online News Act, previously Bill C-18, comes into effect on Dec. 19, 2023, and requires companies, such as Google and Meta, to enter into agreements with Canadian news outlets to pay them for news content that appears on their sites.

As part of the framework, Google will pay $100 million annually in a cash deal, indexed to inflation, to news outlets across the country, including independent media companies and those from Indigenous and official-language minority communities.

However, this is still $72 million below the government’s estimate from draft regulations of the bill released earlier this year. Given the crisis facing Canadian journalism, this revenue stream needs to be implemented immediately.

The federal government must ensure that the money is distributed to newsmakers is a transparent and inclusive manner, so that smaller, independent outlets aren’t left out.

The deal also cites that if other countries, such as Germany, who are in similar disputes with Google, end up getting better deals, the Canadian government can revisit its agreement with the company.

Unifor has made recommendations for Bill C-18 and eagerly waits to review the language in the finalized framework in mid-December.

The union hopes the deal with Google will propel Meta, which shut down talks with the Canadian government last summer and blocked Canadian news on Facebook and Instagram, to follow suit.

“Meta needs to stop bullying Canadians by lifting its ban on distributing news from Canadian outlets,” said Unifor Media Director Randy Kitt. “If Google can step up to the plate with this deal, hopefully it will encourage Meta to come back to the table.”