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Government cuts millions at Ontario Arts Council, cancels five grant programs

Publish date: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 update

"It's hard not to see it as purely ideological... there's no scalpel here—just an axe." - President Dave Bulmer

Budget slashing could see the elimination of 10% of OAC staff positions

TORONTO, ON – The government’s continued budget slashing at the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) will mean there’s $10 million less for the province’s arts and culture organizations this year.

Organizations receiving OAC operating grants are receiving an immediate eight per cent across-the-board reduction in funding, while five entire grant programs have been shuttered for this year:

  • National and International Residency Projects
  • Ontario Dances
  • Publishing Organizations Projects
  • Theatre Training Projects
  • Travel Assistance: Ontario Contact / Contact Ontarois

“These cuts further erode Ontario’s arts and culture industry,” said AMAPCEO President Dave Bulmer. “Since taking office, this government has axed $10 million from the OAC alone.”
The return on Ontario’s investment in the arts is substantial. The sector contributes over $25 billion a year to the provincial economy and builds local economic development. Nearly 80% of Ontarians believe the government should invest public dollars in the arts.1
“There’s no sound business case for these cuts—this sector actually generates revenue far in excess of initial investment and so it’s hard not to see it as purely ideological,” said Bulmer.
“Add that to the fact that these are across-the-board cuts, which betrays the government’s promise that it’s about finding ‘efficiencies’,” said Bulmer. “There’s no scalpel here—just an axe. It’s part of a pattern we’re seeing with this government, across nearly every Ministry and the whole broader public sector.”
The government’s cuts could also see as many as six Ontario Arts Council staff positions cut—10 per cent of the bargaining unit there. Four are occupied, while two are currently vacant. This is the second round of layoffs at OAC since this government took office—a continued about-face of the Premier’s campaign promise of no public sector job losses.
“OAC has a talented, dedicated professional staff team—subject matter experts who care deeply about arts and culture in Ontario,” said Bulmer. “They deserve better than this treatment from the government.”
AMAPCEO met with OAC management today to advocate for alternatives to layoffs, including the use of buyouts, attrition, projected retirements, and voluntary job sharing.
“We will continue to work with the OAC to protect our members’ livelihoods and the greater arts and culture community in Ontario,” said Bulmer.

1Ontario Arts Council, Impact of the Arts in Ontario. Retrieved from

For more information:
Jason Wagar, Communications Officer —, 416.595.4986

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; Health Quality Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).