Since 1998, the Quebec Writers’ Federation has helped to connect, support, and inspire writers. Now in our 25th year, we wish to highlight the work writers do not only to enrich our culture, but also to ensure the success of companies, non-profits, governments, and other organizations.
Writing Matters is a campaign to celebrate those contributions. Writers nourish our society—not just in the books, stories, and other forms of literature they give us, but also in the dissemination and communication of ideas. Writers transform the complex into the comprehensible. They help give shape to our world and meaning to our lived experiences. It is a rare power to be able to captivate and illuminate. And for that, writers are invaluable.
Originality, Imagination, Precision
What sets writers apart? We sum it up in three words: originality, imagination, and precision.
Writers are uniquely poised to help organizations thrive because their work exudes those three qualities. They combine creativity with expertise, imagination with precision, all while daring to be original. That combination is what allows them to think outside the box, to expand the realm of what’s possible, and to transform abstract ideas into concrete building blocks: words and sentences. Without writers, ideas get lost; the realm of what’s possible shrinks.
Writing Careers in Crisis
Everywhere, writers are instrumental to our cultural, creative, and economic output. Yet everywhere, writers’ careers are at risk.
For decades, writers in Quebec and Canada have faced declining working conditions that have threatened not only their right to a fair wage but also the very existence of their livelihoods. In a 2018 study, the Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) found that, accounting for inflation, writers earned 78% less than they did in 1998. The Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec found that, since the 1990s, independent journalists’ fees have stagnated in nominal terms and declined in real terms, all while their line of work has become only more precarious.
This is not a problem unique to Quebec or Canada. A 2017 study prepared by UNEQ and TWUC showed that writers in other developed countries—including the UK, France, the US, and Australia—have seen similar declines in their pay and work conditions. This is a global problem. But it’s a global problem with local dimensions. And local solutions.
In Canada, the passage of the Copyright Modernization Act in 2012 has deprived writers, visual artists, and publishers outside of Quebec of over $200 million in unpaid royalties under tariffs certified by the Copyright Board of Canada, according to Access Copyright. And as the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike illustrated, generative AI programs like ChatGPT could make matters only worse, further slashing writers’ jobs and pay. Governments can and must do more to protect work of writers and to ensure they receive fair compensation for it.
What You Can Do:
1. Support Fair Pay for Writers
Many writers’ organizations publish recommended fees and rates for writing and editing services. Consult them, and double-check you and/or employers you know are using those rates when paying writers.
Here are some recommended rates published by writers’ organizations in Canada:
- Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécoise (UNEQ)
- The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC)
- Storytellers of Canada
- Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec (AJIQ)
2. Support Legislation that Reforms Copyright Law and Protects Writers’ Livelihoods
In April 2022, the Canadian government acknowledged gaps in Canada’s copyright law by promising relief to unpaid copyright holders in its annual budget. Since then, however, little has changed.
Access Copyright, along with a coalition of 22 other writing and publishing organizations, has called on Minister of Canadian Heritage Pascale St-Onge and Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne to repair Canada’s copyright law. You can learn more about copyright reform in Canada, as well as supporting other issues, under the “Useful Resources” section below.
3. Support Writers Directly
QWF manages an online directory of writers and editors available for all types of projects, including copywriting, communications, editing, and more. All of the writers have been vetted and approved by the Quebec Writers’ Federation. If you’re looking for writing or editing services, consider using a service that’s made for writers, by writers.
- Hire a Writer — QWF’s online directory of professional writers and editors
- Recommended Rates and Fees—Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois (UNEQ)
- Recommended Rates for Freelance Writers—The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC)
- Diminishing Returns: Creative Culture at Risk, a report by TWUC (2018)
- The Remuneration of Canadian Writers for Literary Works: A Benchmarking Study prepared for TWUC and UNEQ (2017)
- Generative AI’s Implications for Free Expression, a report by PEN America (2023)