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Government funding of private media outlets will further damage public trust: Five key takeaways from The Hub’s exclusive polling

News

The Globe and Mail debuts its latest redesign Friday December 1, 2017 in Ottawa. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press.

This week, The Hub published a DeepDive of exclusive polling from Public Square Research on how much the Canadian public trusts the news media and its views on the effects of government subsidies for the industry.

According to a 2023 report from the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford, overall trust in the media among the Canadian population fell from 55 percent in 2016 to 40 percent. Among English-speaking Canadians, only 37 percent now say they trust the media.

The decline in trust comes at a time when the Trudeau government is increasingly intervening to support major private firms in the Canadian media landscape like The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and Postmedia. These measures include subsidies supporting the payrolls of qualified private news media, mandating Google to pay $100 million annually to support the journalism industry, and a tax credit for news subscriptions. At this point, some estimates suggest that there could soon be as much as a 50 percent subsidy on journalist salaries up to $85,000 per year.

Here a five takeaways from our polling on government media subsidies, how they affect how the public views coverage, and alternative approaches to supporting Canadian journalism.

1. Impressions of Canadian news

A quarter of Canadians say that a lot of Canadian news is just “government propaganda.”

Just over 20 percent of Canadians say they don’t think they get the truth from mainstream news in Canada. However, twelve percent say that they are getting the truth from the news.

2. Awareness of Bill C-18, the Online News Act

Just 4 percent of Canadians are fully aware of government legislation (Bill C-18), which mandates Google to contribute $100 million to support the news media industry. Over 70 percent of Canadians are unaware of the legislation, which has been pitched as a way to save the industry.

3. Support for subsidizing private news companies

When it comes to how supportive Canadians are of government subsidies for the salaries of private news organizations, only 4 percent of Canadians are very supportive, and another 26 percent said they are somewhat supportive. Thus, a substantial majority of Canadians—seven in 10—are not very supportive, or not supportive at all.

4. The effects of government funding on trust in news

Canadians overwhelmingly agree that government funding of the country’s news has a negative impact on its inherent goal of objectivity and accountability. Over three-quarters agree that having journalist salaries subsidized by the government impacts objectivity and that when the government funds the news, it’s more difficult for said journalists to hold the government to account.

5. Opinion on reader-funded news

Trust in the media is highest if the media organization is primarily funded by individual readers paying for the news. On the whole, three-in-five Canadians trust media that is funded by readers.

The poll also showed that nearly 70 percent of Canadians think further government funding of the news isn’t required, given that Canada already has a national public broadcaster- the CBC. Documents from the Treasury Board of Canada showed that the CBC has a $1.38 billion budget in 2024-25, up from $1.29 billion for 2023-24.

Canada’s marginal tax rates are much higher than America’s, with greater increases across income levels

News

Tax forms and Canadian currency are shown together in this photo illustration taken in Toronto on Sunday, April 3, 2016. Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press

Across Canada and the United States, it is Canadian provinces that have the highest marginal tax rate for incomes over $150,000, and the steepest rise of marginal tax rates for those moving from $75,000 to $150,000 in income.

The marginal tax rate is the tax rate an individual pays on each additional dollar earned within a tax bracket. For this analysis, The Hub looked at the combined federal and provincial or state marginal tax rates for individuals in Canadian provinces and American states.

In particular, using data compiled from the Government of Canada and the U.S. Tax Foundation, The Hub examined the marginal income tax rates that Canadians and Americans pay at three income levels: $75,000, $150,000, and $300,000 CAD. We found that for incomes of $150,000 and $300,000, Canada’s marginal income tax rates are all higher than those of our neighbours to the south.

The lowest top marginal tax rate for an income of $75,0000 is 28.2 percent, in British Columbia. The lowest equivalent rate in the United States is 22 percent in tax-free states such as Florida, Texas, or Washington. Of the 61 North American jurisdictions, Quebecers face the highest combined marginal tax rates on their incomes up to $150,000; 39.5 percent on incomes of $75,000, and 53.3 percent for incomes of $150,000.

Nova Scotia has the second highest tax rates on income, with 37.17 percent for an income of $75,000 and 47 percent for an income of $150,000. The Maritime province also features the highest marginal tax rate on incomes over $300,000, 54 percent. Its highest-ranking marginal rate on income over $300,000 is followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (53.8 percent), Ontario (53.5 percent), British Columbia (53.5 percent), and Quebec (53.3 percent).

By comparison, in the United States the highest marginal tax rates on $300,000 income are in Oregon (41.9 percent), Minnesota (41.8 percent), and California (41.3 percent).

Canadian provinces also have steeper increases in the marginal tax rates when moving between different income levels. British Columbia for instance has a 12.5 percentage point jump in the tax rate moving from the $75,000 to $150,000 income level, and another 12.8 percentage point increase from $150,000 to $300,000.

The rate increases across the American states are generally less marked. The largest is in Minnesota, where rates jump by 10 percentage points from the $150,000 to $300,000 income levels. Most however are within a band between four and eight percentage points.

Canadians pay more taxes compared to those in the United States because of this country’s more extensive social services, such as universal healthcare. Research also suggests that Canadians will face a higher tax burden in the future because of the current federal government’s program spending.

Last week in his Hub DeepDive analysis, University of Calgary economics professor Trevor Tombe analysed Canadian tax competitiveness among high-income earners. High Canadian marginal taxation relative to the U.S. is likely becoming a push factor for high earners moving south of the 49th parallel, he wrote. For example, Alberta’s highest tax bracket of 15 percent of income kicks in for every dollar earned over $355,845. California, meanwhile, takes only 13 percent of income for every dollar earned over US$1,000,000.