The Government’s commitment to address online safety

Online platforms are increasingly central to participation in democratic, cultural and public life. However, such platforms can also be used to threaten and intimidate Canadians and to promote views that target communities, put people’s safety at risk, and undermine Canada’s social cohesion or democracy.

The Government of Canada is committed to putting in place a transparent and accountable regulatory framework for online safety in Canada. Now, more than ever, online services must be held responsible for addressing harmful content on their platforms and creating a safe online space that protects all Canadians.

Expert advisory group

In March 2022, the Government of Canada established an expert advisory group on online safety, mandated to provide the Minister of Canadian Heritage with advice on how to design the legislative and regulatory framework to address harmful content online and how to best incorporate the feedback received during the national consultation held from July to September 2021.

The expert advisory group, composed of twelve individuals, participated in 10 weekly workshops on the components of a legislative and regulatory framework for online safety, including an introductory workshop and a summary concluding workshop.

The Government undertook its work with the expert advisory group in an open and transparent manner.

Each advisory group session was supported by a worksheet made available to the group in advance. The goal of these worksheets was to support the discussion and organize feedback and input. The ideas and language shared were intended to represent a starting point for reaction and feedback. Neither the group’s advice nor the preliminary views expressed in the worksheets constitute the final views of the Department of Canadian Heritage nor the Government of Canada. These worksheets are published below.

After each meeting of the expert advisory panel, a non-attributed summary of input and the discussion was published here.

Introductory Session

Session One – Subjects of Regulation

Session Two – Objects of Regulation

Session Three – Legislative and Regulatory Obligations

Session Four – Regulatory Powers

Session Five – Risk-Based Approach

Session Six – Freedom of Expression and Other Rights

Session Seven – Connection to Law Enforcement

Session Eight – Disinformation

Concluding Session

Citizens’ Assembly on Democratic Expression

The Department of Canadian Heritage, through the Digital Citizen Initiative, is providing financial support to the Public Policy Forum's (PPF) Digital Democracy Project, which brings together academics, civil society and policy professionals to support research and policy development on disinformation and online harms.

One component of this multi-year project is an annual Citizens’ Assembly on Democratic Expression that considers the impacts of digital technologies on Canadian society. The Assembly is selected using a civic lottery, a process which employs random selection while ensuring that it broadly represents the diversity of the Canadian population.

This year’s Assembly took place between June 15-19 in Ottawa and focused on Online Safety. Participants heard views from a representative group of citizens on the core elements of a successful legislative and regulatory framework for Online Safety.

For more information, see the report detailing the Assembly’s recommendations to the federal government, and the Canadian public.

Previous Consultations

From July 29 to September 25, 2021, the Government published a proposed approach to address harmful content online for consultation and feedback. Two documents were presented for consultation:

  1. discussion guide that summarized and outlined an overall approach.
  2. technical paper that summarized drafting instructions that could inform legislation.

An overview of submissions to the consultation can be found here.

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