Google agrees to pay millions for news in Canada

30 Nov 2023

Google office in Ontario, Canada. Image: © rudi1976/

As part of the Online News Act, also known as C-18, the Canadian government said Google will pay CAD$100m annually to news organisations across the country.

Google and Canada have reached a deal that narrowly avoids shutting down online news from the country from appearing on the platform, after the search giant agreed to pay millions to news outlets in the country.

In a statement released yesterday (29 November), Pascale St-Onge, minister of Canadian heritage, said that the government of Canada and Google have “found a path forward” for the implementation of the Online News Act, also known as C-18, that requires Big Tech to pay for news published on its platforms.

“This will benefit the news sector and allow Google to continue to play an important role in giving Canadians access to reliable news content,” she said.

According to St-Onge, Google will contribute a total of CAD$100m in “financial support” to news businesses across Canada, including independent outlets and those from indigenous and official minority communities. The amount will be indexed to inflation.

“Google will have the option to work with a single collective to distribute its contribution to all interested eligible news businesses based on the number of full-time equivalent journalists engaged by those businesses,” St-Onge added.

Why did Google not want to pay?

This comes after Google joined Meta in refusing to pay news organisations for their content earlier this year after the Online News Act passed by the Canadian parliament in June.

Google president of global affairs Kent Walker said at the time that the proposal “remains unworkable” and exposes the search giant to “uncapped financial liability”.

Walker argued that the Canadian government had not given Google reason to believe that the regulatory process will be able to resolve “structural issues” with the legislation that requires companies to pay for “simply showing links to news, something that everyone else does for free”.

As a consequence, Walker said Google would have no choice but to remove links to Canadian news from its Search, News and Discover products in Canada once the law came into effect. It would also stop offering its Google News Showcase product in the country.

And while Meta stood its ground in pulling news from the country, Google appears to have taken a favourable approach to amendments made to the Act.

“We are pleased that the Government of Canada has committed to addressing our core issues with Bill C-18,” Walker said in a statement following the news.

“While we work with the government through the exemption process based on the regulations that will be published shortly, we will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers.”

Global momentum

Asking big tech platforms to pay for news is gaining momentum the world over. Inspired by similar moves in Australia and Canada, Malaysia became one of the latest countries to consider legislation that will require the likes of Google and Meta to compensate news outlets.

Australia became a pioneer in this space two years ago when it passed the News Media Bargaining Code, requiring Meta (then Facebook) and Google to strike commercial deals with news outlets for using their content.

In the immediate aftermath of the law, Facebook blocked Australian news media content from appearing on its platform overnight, before eventually finding middle ground.

“A sustainable news ecosystem is good for everyone. News and journalism serve to inform communities, drive civic engagement and counter the rise of disinformation,” St-Onge said yesterday.

“Access to news helps Canadians fully benefit and participate in democratic society. With newsrooms cutting positions or closing entirely, the health of the Canadian news industry has never been more at risk.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic