The Government launches a targeted, special call for proposals to focus on combatting disinformation

TORONTO, March 16, 2022

As the pandemic continues into its third year and the Russian invasion of Ukraine now threatens democracies around the world, we need to do more to counter the growing spread of harmful misinformation and disinformation. Today, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the launch of a special, targeted call for proposals totalling $2.5 million to fund initiatives that help people identify misinformation and disinformation online.

Through the Government’s Digital Citizen Initiative (DCI), Canadians can respond and help in the global efforts to counter misinformation and disinformation. The DCI supports democracy and social cohesion in Canada by building citizen resilience against misinformation and disinformation, and building partnerships to support a healthy digital information society.

Funded projects will help increase civic literacy, promote critical thinking when it comes to validating sources of information, and build capacity in Canada to fight disinformation online. The department will work closely with several targeted and specialized organizations who are already doing work in this area. Stakeholders will be contacted in the following days.

Since January 2020, Canadian Heritage’s Digital Citizen Contribution Program has provided $8.5 million in funding support to organizations undertaking research or citizen-focused activities, such as public awareness tools and online workshops, to help Canadians become more aware and more resilient, and to think more critically about the information they see and consume online.

These projects are reaching Canadians on a national and local scale, online and offline, in minority communities, in both official languages, and in Indigenous communities. The Digital Citizen Initiative is dedicated specifically to counter disinformation, misleading information, as well as the serious consequences that often result.

“There is an urgency to act. As Canadians, we can’t tolerate disinformation and propaganda. Democracy didn’t happen by accident. We need to fight for it. Canadians can play a role in pointing out and stopping the spread of misinformation and harmful disinformation. We can choose to advance a new, shared vision of democracy in the digital age. It begins with digital inclusion, where an informed and engaged Canadian public can participate meaningfully in society, both online and offline.”

—The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage

“Each day, opinions are manipulated and division incited through the spread of deliberate disinformation online. Canada takes this very seriously. We know an engaged and informed public is the best line of defence in our efforts to fight disinformation and protect our democracy.”

—The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

When it officially launched in 2019, the overarching Digital Citizen Initiative contributed $7 million to more than 20 projects that encouraged critical thinking about online disinformation and involvement in the democratic process. Those projects reached more than 12 million Canadians.

The Digital Citizen Initiative is one of many programs in place to build citizen resilience and protect democracy in Canada. The Government of Canada is tackling online disinformation through additional initiatives like the Paris Call, and developing safeguards like the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol to further defend our democratic institutions.

The Digital Citizen Initiative and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), through the Joint Initiative for Digital Citizen Research, provide funding support through arm’s-length SSHRC Connection Grants, supplements to recipients of SSHRC Insight Grants, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowships and SSHRC Doctoral Awards.

Through a $2.5-million agreement over four years, the Digital Citizen Initiative is also supporting 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. The Digital Citizen Initiative is also supporting MediaSmarts’ Media Literacy Week with a $225,000 agreement over three years.

Laura Scaffidi

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage