Culture and heritage groups seek targeted COVID-19 support

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 1:10 PM | Deleted user

OTTAWA, April 22, 2020 —Associations representing Canada’s museums, science centres, zoos, aquaria, public and botanical gardens and historic places have all joined forces and today issued the following open letter to the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The open letter highlighted the critical risk to the safety and security of collections across the country and asked for the government’s increased attention in three key areas: immediate financial relief, an investment in digitization and considerations for the sector in a post-COVID-19 world. 

The letter follows a panel discussion which took place last week, at an online conference organized by the Canadian Museums Association, in which organizations shared common concerns and challenges and explored what can be done by working together. Moving forward, the group will be working collaboratively on issues of common concern.

Ottawa, April 22nd 2020

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
By email:

Dear Minister:

The undersigned organizations recently came together to discuss areas of common interest and begin the process of working together in order to reimagine a new way forward post COVID-19. Each organization represents an important piece of the Canadian fabric contributing to our cultural, environmental and economic makeup.

With a focus on conservation, history, science, environment and education, our organizations strive to help record, define and reflect a snapshot of Canada’s history and the world around us. Going forward, we see promise in our ability to connect and cooperate to deliver on common objectives, specifically as we strive to adopt a National Museums Policy.

Three ways we are helping Canadians and seek financial support in our efforts:

Online digital engagement

Our organizations are stepping-up to support Canadians by continuing to share our missions online with our audiences, through virtual tours, access to collections online, delivering educational content, and facilitating dialogue. With the transition to online engagement, new expenses are being incurred at a time when revenue losses are high.

Protecting the economic engine

Our organizations are among the many hard-hit industries facing immediate impacts, and this includes the safety and security of our collections across the country, which are at significant risk. Be it the wage subsidy program, federal tax deferrals or some form of loan guarantees, these initiatives will be necessary elements to aid our members as they rebuild after months of closures and reduced revenues. We are a network of related organizations all with the same urgent need: immediate relief for our members.

Supporting Canada after COVID-19

Our members provide unique perspectives and collectively, deliver a significant contribution to the health and well-being of Canadian society, especially now, as we rebuild and transform to a “new normal” post pandemic. Early data out of the United States points to people looking to return to cultural institutions, be they zoos, aquariums, public and botanical gardens, museums, or science centres as destinations to “get out”, and in this regard we are uniquely positioned to be able to provide the necessary support programs that will be launched post COVID-19.

It is our hope that the Government of Canada will make the necessary investments and that you see value in the strength of our desire and ability to collaborate and educate as we strive to work with you to shape pertinent government policy going forward – policy that will reenergize our cultural and economic makeup across Canada from coast to coast to coast.


Dr Vanda Vitali
Executive Director
Canadian Museums Association

Dolf DeJong
Toronto Zoo

Dr Marianne Mader
Executive Director
Canadian Association of Science Centres

Elizabeth McCrea
Administrative Director
Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada

Jim Facette
Executive Director
Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums

Natalie Bull
Executive Director
National Trust of Canada

Tracy Calogheros
CEO, The Exploration Place Museum and Science
Centre and President, Canadian Association of Science Centre

Michel Gauthier
Executive Director
Canadian Garden Council