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Minister's Message

James Moore The Department of Canadian Heritage and its portfolio organizations play an important role in our cultural, social, and economic lives. Together, they promote the creation of an environment where all Canadians can enjoy cultural experiences, celebrate their heritage, and take part in building stronger communities. As a Canadian Heritage portfolio organization, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) implements programs and offers services that help achieve these goals.

The NFB works closely with artists, filmmakers, producers, and private-sector partners from across Canada to create a stimulating environment. It develops creative innovations and Canadian technologies that help make Canada an international leader in the audiovisual sector in the digital economy.

As a Canadian producer and public distributor of audiovisual works, the NFB plays a key role in the constantly evolving world of digital media. While maintaining a presence in traditional means of distribution and broadcasting, the NFB pursued the development of new formats of creation and digital broadcasting in order to reach members of the Canadian public on the platform of their choice and in our two official languages. Over the last year, the NFB launched 26 original Web productions, which demonstrates the increasing importance of digital programming. The online Screening Room features more and more content every year and now offers Canadians more than 2000 free productions.

As Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, I am pleased to present the 2010–11 Departmental Performance Report of the NFB. I invite you to take a look at it for an overview of the activities that this organization has undertaken over the past year to fulfill its mandate and contribute to the vitality of Canadian society.

The Honourable James Moore

Commissioner's Message

The year 2010–2011 was a time of economic renewal. Nonetheless, the effects of the earlier global recession had still not entirely disappeared, and the cultural industry continued to face manifestations of an economic crisis even as it was forced to adapt to the fundamental, structural and very permanent changes the digital revolution has engendered.

Despite a constantly changing environment, the NFB has continued to implement the third year of its five-year Strategic Plan. In setting the foundations for new ways of making, producing and distributing audiovisual works, the organization has demonstrated its leadership role in the industry. The core of the NFB’s strategy comprises a reaffirmation of its basic values: working with filmmakers of all kinds and all available technologies, encouraging the making of innovative works and ensuring their accessibility to all Canadians, while taking full advantage of the possibilities that digital technologies have to offer.

The NFB has continued its work in traditional sectors by strengthening Canada’s reputation for excellence in point-of-view animated films and documentaries, while also tackling social issues important to Canadians. This year, over 97 original productions were released by experienced and emerging filmmakers from a wide variety of regions and cultural and linguistic communities.

The NFB has now reached a point where, in addition to its traditional strengths in making documentaries and classic animated films, it can lay claim to achieving a critical mass of original digital works—works that are recognized as the precursors of tomorrow’s new forms of art and entertainment. This year, 26 original web productions were released and are now available at Many of these interactive projects received industry recognition, garnering both Canadian and international awards.

The NFB’s online viewing space is constantly enriched with titles from the NFB collection, as well as with new interactive works, enabling the organization to reach not only wider audiences in general, but also young people in particular. So far, NFB works have been viewed some 22 million times on digital platforms in Canada and other countries.

Canada’s schools and other educational institutions are increasingly connected, and there is significant demand for bilingual and reliable Canadian content. The NFB has concluded numerous agreements with provincial departments of education, colleges and universities that have acquired the rights to use the NFB site in their institutions. In partnership with teachers, we have successfully aligned the NFB works on offer with the educational programs of individual provinces. We have simplified the in-class use of online spaces by adding a number of functionalities, such as bookmarks and teaching guides. And the NFB will continue to be inventive, adding new features so that educators can make use of the digital environment’s full potential. By strengthening its relationship with the educational sector, the NFB can forge solid ties with Canadian youth.

After the resounding success of the NFB’s iPhone app in 2009, we are continuing to innovate: this year, the NFB launched iPad and Android apps, and has developed an app for the BlackBerry PlayBook. For its innovative approach to preservation, conservation and accessibility, the NFB has received plaudits, praise and international recognition through participation in highly prestigious conferences, such as the International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects/iPRES and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers annual conferences. While maintaining its raison d’être as Canada’s public producer and distributor, the NFB has demonstrated its commitment to being a world leader in the digital age.

This year, the NFB has once again achieved international visibility and recognition for its works, especially through the unique immersion experience it provided, in tandem with Cirque du Soleil, for millions of visitors to the Canada Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai.

The year was also an opportunity for the NFB to demonstrate its dedication to Aboriginal communities. We remain determined to work with existing filmmakers and to train emerging filmmakers in those communities. For our Inuit partners, we have introduced Unikkausivut – Sharing Our Stories, a large-scale project that will bring together a rich heritage of conventional and digital NFB works for the Inuit, by the Inuit, and about the Inuit. The project is still under development.

To make the collection more accessible, and to create new works as well as new forms of art and entertainment, the NFB needed to practise discipline and implement new management approaches and organizational practices. Given that the review of our organizational structure was completed last year, this year the focus was on examining workflows and work procedures to maximize efficiency.

Despite the rapidly shifting environment in which we operate, the NFB has remained true to its mandate and values. We continue to take risks, to experiment and to focus on works that could never be made in the private sector. We will continue to encourage inventiveness, innovation and boldness, so that we can be fully engaged in building the audiovisual environment of the future.

Tom Perlmutter
Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Film Board of Canada

Section I: Organizational Overview

Raison d’Être

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) was created by an Act of Parliament in 1939 and is a federal agency within the Canadian Heritage portfolio. The NFB's mandate is to produce and distribute original and innovative audiovisual works that add to our understanding of the issues facing Canadians and raise awareness of Canadian values and viewpoints across the country and around the world. Throughout the decades, the NFB has also played an important role in marking the major changes and events taking place in Canadian society, and has become Canada's best-known cinematic brand.


As a producer and distributor of audiovisual works, the NFB provides a unique perspective on Canada's cultural wealth and diversity. The NFB explores contemporary social issues through point-of-view documentaries, auteur animation and new-media content. Over the years, the NFB has played an important role in marking the major changes and events taking place in Canadian society. The NFB has set the benchmark for audiovisual innovation in Canada.

By supporting filmmakers, multimedia artists and co-producers from all the regions of Canada and from diverse cultural, Aboriginal and linguistic communities, the NFB ensures that its audiovisual works reflect the rapidly changing cultural and social realities of Canada.

As a creative laboratory, the NFB enriches the means of cinematic expression in the 21st century, and explores new formats for creating and distributing audiovisual works. Artists can function in an environment that allows them to take creative and technological risks in making cultural content that could not easily be produced in the private sector.

Canadian and foreign audiences now have unprecedented access to the NFB’s remarkable audiovisual heritage of over 13,000 productions. On, viewers have instantaneous access to the works—at the time and on the platform of their choice. The NFB also provides Canadian audiovisual content in both official languages to educational institutions, and is therefore a significant carrier of Canadian values to Canada's youth.

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

In pursuing its mandate, the National Film Board aims to achieve the following strategic outcome:

The reflection of Canadian values and perspectives through the production of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of the day.

The chart1 below illustrates the NFB's program activities and sub-activities that contribute to the strategic outcome.

Strategic outcome


Organizational Priorities

Overall, the NFB successfully delivered on priorities identified in its 2010-2011 Report on Plans and Priorities. These are aligned with the objectives of the 2008-2012 Strategic Plan. The chart below summarizes progress achieved per priority.

Priority Type2 Strategic Outcome(s) and/or Program Activity(ies)

Creative Leadership and Programming Excellence

The NFB will exercise its leadership as a world reference point for innovation and creation of documentaries, and auteur animation, digital/new media content and other emerging forms for and across all platforms.


  • SO: The reflection of Canadian values and perspectives through the production of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of the day.
  • PA 1: Production of Audiovisual Works

Status: Met all

This priority supports the Strategic Outcome and contributes to the Production of Audiovisual Works Program Activity by ensuring the production of relevant, challenging and innovative audiovisual works that give Canadians a better understanding of Canada and the world.

  • In 2010–2011, the NFB completed 97 original productions and co-productions, as well as 26 original Web sites comprising 107 films.
  • Digital programming is becoming increasingly important at the NFB. In 2010–2011, the NFB released 26 original Web productions, up from nine in 2009–2010. Over half of them were made by emerging filmmakers.
  • This year, almost half – 48 percent – of completed works were made by filmmakers from various regions and diverse cultural, Aboriginal and linguistic communities.
  • The NFB and ARTE France have signed a co-production and experience-sharing agreement for audiovisual works made and distributed over the Internet.
Priority Type Strategic Outcome(s) and/or Program Activity(ies)

Wide Accessibility and Democratic Engagement

The NFB will make its works and the work of its partners readily and widely accessible to Canadian and international audiences on all relevant platforms.


  • SO: The reflection of Canadian values and perspectives through the production of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of the day
  • PA 2: Distribution, Accessibility, Outreach

Status: Met all

By using all relevant platforms, the NFB gives Canadian and foreign audiences access to its productions. This priority makes it possible to ensure that audiences across Canada and in other countries have access to NFB productions.

  • In 2010–2011, the NFB reached over 25 million people through a large number of distribution channels.
  • The NFB is continuing to enrich its programming on, has signed agreements with new content syndication partners, including Hulu and Isuma.TV, and is also continuing to develop new partnerships. It has launched an NFB app for the iPad and Android
  • The Branding department, under the Marketing umbrella, makes it possible to offer more integrated and better-structured activities both within Canada and internationally.
  • Many subscriptions and licences have been sold to partners in the educational sector across Canada.
Priority Type Strategic Outcome(s) and/or Program Activity(ies)

Digital Transformation

By continuing to implement its digital strategy, the NFB will ensure that it can deliver on its mandate into the future: in programming, distribution, accessibility, business development and conservation of its audiovisual heritage.


  • SO: The reflection of Canadian values and perspectives through the production of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of the day
  • PA 1: Production of Audiovisual Works
  • PA 2: Distribution, Accessibility, Outreach

Status: Fully met

Implementing the digital strategy is essential to securing the NFB’s future, and strengthening its capacity to produce works that are relevant to Canadians and to future generations. The digital strategy is crucial to preserving the NFB’s rich heritage collection and making it accessible.

  • In addition to implementing its digitization and digital archiving plan, the NFB is continuing its research into the development of tools and work procedures to automate digitization activities and processes.
  • To accomplish the digital shift, the NFB initiated the ITOP (Integrated Technological and Operational Plan) project as a concrete, operational response to our intention to provide good management and a structured technological framework.
  • Interactive works have been brought together under
Priority Type Strategic Outcome(s) and/or Program Activity(ies)

Organizational Renewal

The NFB will become a model for the creative organization of the 21st century: a flexible, efficient and effective organization that is a crucible for creative innovation, values its employees, works in a timely and transparent manner with its stakeholders, delivers value to Canadians and takes initiative in implementing environmentally sustainable practices.


  • SO: The reflection of Canadian values and perspectives through the production of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of the day
  • PA 1: Production of Audiovisual Works
  • PA 2: Distribution, Accessibility, Outreach

Status: Mostly met

Organizational renewal is essential in providing a work environment conducive to producing and distributing innovative audiovisual works that are accessible to Canadians.

  • The Treasury Board has approved the NFB’s submission for its revised Grants and Contributions program for skills and content development.
  • The NFB responded to the entire process linked to Round VIII of the Management Accountability Framework (MAF). A preliminary report indicates that there has been an overall improvement in management.
  • A new Program Activity Architecture (PAA) that more effectively represents the NFB’s program activities and sub-activities has been approved, and will come into effect for fiscal year 2011–2012.
  • The Operational Committee has continued formulating the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and working on the Business Impact Analysis (BIA), and has begun vulnerability and integrated risk management analyses.
  • The NFB has prepared an integrated training plan that takes account of the new digital environment, and provides opportunities for training, advancement and professional development.
Priority Type Strategic Outcome(s) and/or Program Activity(ies)

Firm Financing

The NFB will continue to implement better financial planning and control mechanisms to maximize internal efficiencies, in addition to focusing on new areas of revenue generation, leveraging partnerships in areas like marketing and becoming more aggressive in our traditional distribution activities.


  • SO: The reflection of Canadian values and perspectives through the production of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of the day
  • PA 1: Production of audiovisual works
  • PA 2: Distribution, Accessibility, Outreach

Status: Mostly met

The search for new revenue-generating sectors is crucial to meeting the challenges of digitization and the shift to new technologies.

  • During the fiscal year, the NFB established a business model to increase audiences, revenues, and the visibility and recognition of the NFB brand.
  • The new marketing approach is more uniform, more consistent and more recognizable to the public.
  • The NFB’s on-demand downloading service is now available online, but Education+, the new subscription service for the educational sector, has been postponed until Fiscal 2011-2012.

Risk Analysis

At year-end, the NFB saw a 26 percent decrease in total revenues. In the wake of profound changes in the audiovisual industry, revenues from existing sources, such as distribution rights and DVD sales, remained the same or declined. We also witnessed the continuing decline of our conventional television market. These changes have reduced broadcasting opportunities, as well as broadcasting licence budgets. Television sales have dropped significantly over the past few years, and we are still seeing changes in long-term market trends that work against single-episode documentaries and converge towards the new generation of online television viewing. This year, the NFB was also affected by the global trend.

Profile 20103, the economic report on screen-based production industry in Canada, points out that the number of made-for-TV documentaries has dropped, particularly in the English market. The shutdown of many documentary slots, their off-prime screening times and the fact that NFB programming is not always aligned with documentary acquisition priorities are factors that in part account for the drop in audience numbers.

Yet online audiences are growing continuously. Canadians are among the world’s leading users of the Internet, and expect on-demand access to the content of their choice, on their preferred platforms. In fact, broadband and high-capacity access account for most of the growing trend in which content is accessed by mobile personal products, such as smartphones and music players. According to a study by the Conference Board of Canada4, technology is revolutionizing the business models that govern the creative economy, particularly when it comes to the creation and consumption of cultural products. Consumers play an active and interactive role, and personalize the content of such products. Once again this year, the NFB demonstrated that it takes advantage of new distribution methods to increase the visibility of its productions among Canadians.

The NFB must digitize its works if it is to ensure that all Canadians can access its rich collection and productions wherever they wish, whenever they wish, and on the platform of their choice. The NFB is the steward of a vast audiovisual heritage of tremendous cultural value, comprising over 13,000 titles—digitizing it is an enormous undertaking, as well as a considerable financial and technological challenge. For the NFB, converting works made over the past 70 years remains a priority. This year, the NFB continued to implement its digitization and archiving plan to ensure that its works are preserved and made accessible to all Canadians, as well as to future generations.

Preserving the NFB collection is a major challenge as well. The NFB must establish best practices to preserve its collection, and ensure the physical security of its conservation room contents. Over the next three years, the NFB will relocate more than 5,000 cubic feet of material to a different storage location to guarantee the physical security of its audiovisual assets. The move is slated to begin in the fall of 2011.

In 2009, the NFB revitalized its organizational structure, merging nine branches into five. This year, it has reviewed and improved workflows to make them more efficient. It has also established a corporate training and development strategy, slated for implementation in the coming year. The strategy is essential if the NFB is to remain a leader in innovative media production.

Summary of Performance

2010–11 Financial Resources ($ thousands)
Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
67,217 68,486 67,883

* Please note: Financial Resources should equal the sum of the Total line for Program Activities and Internal Services *

2010-11 Human Resources (full-time equivalents—FTEs)
Planned Actual Difference
452 435 -17
Strategic Outcome: The reflection of Canadian values and perspectives through the production of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of the day.
Performance Indicators Targets 2010-11 Performance

Percentage of Canadian public that perceive the NFB as an innovative, creative and socially engaged institution

60% by March 31, 2011

According to an online survey carried out for the NFB in 2011, 64% of Canadians perceive the NFB to be an innovative institution, 75% a creative institution and 58% a socially engaged institution.

These perception figures are very close to those in the surveys carried out in 2008 and 2010.

Percentage of completed productions dealing with major social issues.

90% by March 31, 2011

72% of productions completed in 2010–2011 dealt with major social issues.

Percentage of NFB audience who indicated that NFB productions reflect Canadian values or perspectives

85% by March 31, 2011

According to an online survey carried out in 2011, 71% of respondents indicated that NFB productions reflect Canadian values or perspectives.

Perception figures for Canadians seem consistent: the 2008 survey showed 71% and the 2010 survey 69%.

Program Activity 2009–10
Actual Spending ($ thousands)
2010–115 ($ thousands) Alignment to Government of Canada Outcome
Main Estimates Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
Production of Audiovisual Works 47,754 46,643 46,643 46,222 44,893 Social Affairs: A Vibrant Canadian Heritage and Culture
Distribution, Accessibility, Outreach 13,814 12,804 12,804 14,018 14,507
Internal Services 8,112 7,770 7,770 8,246 8,483 N/A
Total 69,680 67,217 67,217 68,486 67,883  

Variance explanation

The variance between the 2010-2011 planned spending and the total authorities results from amounts received from Supplementary Estimates. These include the 2009-2010 carry forward of $439,000, the frozen allotment of $449,000 related to the 2010 budget cost containment measures and the $1.3 million reimbursement of eligible paylist expenditures for severance pay and parental leave which contributed to the increase in spending for distribution, accessibility and outreach and internal services. The carry forward from 2010-2011 to 2011-2012 reached $603,000 and results primarily from production phases overlapping over two (2) years. Investments related to new media are increasing and explain in large part the spending increase for activities in the “Distribution, accessibility and outreach” program.

($ thousands)
Planned Spending 67 217
Supplementary Estimates Appropriation 1 269

Total Authorities 68 486
2010-2011 Carry Forward (603)

Actual Spending 67 883

Expenditure Profile

Spending trends


In 2010–2011, the total authorities include $1.3 million for severance pay and maternity leave, which are excluded in the Main Estimates. The NFB’s Vote has been reduced by $449,000 following the 2010 cost containment measures implementation. From the total authorities, the NFB carried forward $603,000 to 2011–2012, an amount that is in keeping with previous years ($439,000 in 2010-2011 and $617,000 in 2009-2010). The NFB is pursuing its digital shift without any additional funds as a result of its financial governance and strict financial controls.

In 2009–2010, the NFB received a retroactive salary revision from 2007–2008 to 2009-2010.

Estimates by Vote

For information on our organizational Votes and/or statutory expenditures, please see the 2010–11 Public Accounts of Canada (Volume II) publication. An electronic version of the Public Accounts is available on the Public Works and Government Services Canada website.6