A strong democracy relies on Canadians having access to diverse and reliable sources of news and information so that they can form opinions, hold governments and individuals to account and participate in public debate. In response to the increase in false, misleading and inflammatory disinformation published online and through social media, the Government of Canada has made it a priority to help equip citizens with the tools and skills needed to critically assess online information.
Digital Citizen Initiative
The Digital Citizen Initiative is a multi-component strategy that aims to support democracy and social cohesion in Canada by building citizen resilience against online disinformation and building partnerships to support a healthy information ecosystem.
The Digital Citizen Initiative also supports a community of Canadian researchers that promote a healthy information ecosystem, to help Canadians and the Government understand online disinformation and its impact on Canadian society, and in turn build an evidence-base to identify potential action and develop future policy-making.
Building Citizen Resilience
Plan to Protect Canada’s Democracy – Citizen-focused Activities
In 2019-20, as part of Canada’s approach to protecting its democracy, Canadian Heritage contributed $7 million over 9 months to 23 projects delivered by Canadian civil society stakeholders that strengthened citizens’ critical thinking about online disinformation, their ability to be more resilient against online disinformation, as well as their ability to get involved in democratic processes.
The DCI provided funding for civic, news, and digital media literacy, ranging from awareness sessions and workshops to the development of learning materials. These projects reached more than 12 million Canadians from coast to coast to coast including youth, seniors, minority communities, official languages minority communities, etc.
This initiative was delivered through the following programs:
A list of the funded activities, including recipients, funding amounts and project descriptions, is available in the backgrounder Helping citizens critically assess and become resilient against harmful online disinformation.
Special COVID-19 Calls
To enhance citizen preparedness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Digital Citizen Contribution Program is providing $3.5 million in funding to amplify the current efforts of eight organizations supporting citizens to think critically about the health information they find online, to identify mis- and disinformation, and limit the impact of racist and/or misleading social media posts relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn more about this announcement in our news release - Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.
The Digital Citizen Contribution Program is pleased to announce another call for proposals for projects aiming to counter disinformation relating to COVID-19. This call aims to amplify the current efforts of organizations supporting citizens to think critically about the health information they find online, to identify mis- and disinformation, and limit the impact of racist and/or misleading social media posts relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will provide time-limited financial assistance of up to $40,000 per project. The application deadline and details on how to apply can be found on the Digital Citizen Contribution Program page.
Digital Citizen Research Program
The Digital Citizen Research Program focuses on helping Canadians understand online disinformation and its impact on Canadian society, and building the evidence base to identify possible actions and future policy-making in this space. This program compliments the multistakeholder International Engagement Strategy aiming to establish consensus and develop guiding principles for the diversity of content online in order to reinforce democratic and citizen resilience.
The Program has 3 components:
- Digital Citizen Contribution Program
- Joint Initiative for Digital Citizen Research
- Support to the Public Policy Forum’s Digital Democracy Project
Canadian Heritage supports the Public Policy Forum’s Digital Democracy Project, which brings together academics, civil society, and policy professionals to support research and policy development on disinformation and online harms.
Current Open Call
The Digital Citizen Contribution Program (DCCP) is pleased to announce a new call for proposals to provide time-limited financial assistance for the following types of research projects:
- Foresight/horizons projects to map/predict the next issues and/or types of online disinformation;
- Projects to further understand the impact of disinformation on diverse and marginalized communities in Canada;
- Projects to better understand the societal factors and psychological characteristics that motivate individuals to take up the call for online and offline disinformation related activities; and,
- Project that aims to understand the impacts of a lack of exposure to diverse content online, including understanding how users access reliable news and information in Canada, as well as the impacts of algorithmic systems on the content users are exposed to and consume on online platforms
The application deadline and details on how to apply can be found on the Digital Citizen Contribution Program page.
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