ontario news watch

Creating proposed online harms regulators estimated to cost $200 million: PBO

OTTAWA — The parliamentary budget officer estimates that staffing up the new regulators in the Liberals’ Online Harms Act will cost around $200 million over five years.

The federal government wants to establish a Digital Safety Commission to regulate social-media companies and force them to limit harmful content online.

The online harms bill also proposes creating a Digital Safety Ombudsperson for Canadians to take their concerns to, as well as a Digital Safety Office.

In a new report, the PBO says the Heritage Department estimates those new entities will have 300 employees when they’re fully up and running.

The watchdog notes the government staffing estimates were based on other Canadian and international regulators.

Justice Minister Arif Virani introduced the online harms bill back in February, saying it’s badly needed to compel social media giants to take accountability for harmful content, but the Opposition Conservatives have been critical, saying it will create a new bureaucracy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2024.

The Canadian Press