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Provincial government not 'buying local'

The provincial government seems to be ignoring its own 'buy local' credo.

In some cases, Victoria is spending four times as much with multinational conglomerates Facebook and Twitter as it does with local media.

For instance, to reach hard-hit small-and-medium-sized businesses with its BC Recovery Plan message, the government set an advertising budget of $154,000, according to the Ministry of Finance.

Approximately $128,000, or 81%, was allotted for digital advertising with social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

That left, 19%, or $26,000, for local media, mostly print such as newspapers..

The BC Recovery Plan provides grants for qualifying small-and-medium-sized businesses who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

</who>Kelowna-Mission Liberal MLA Renee Merrifield says the government should spend more with local media outlets for COVID-related messaging.

"The NDP government is spending a ton of money on COVID-19 messaging," said Kelowna-Mission Liberal MLA Renee Merrifield, who is also the Official Opposition's health critic.

"It should designate it to local media instead."

However, Merrifield conceded some money should be spent with Facebook and Twitter because "that's where people are" looking, too.

Merrifield says the non-local advertising spending reminds her of when the BC government bought out-of-province hand sanitizer early in the pandemic when Okanagan distilleries were producing hand sanitizer.

"The BC government is spending so much money, it's like a blank cheque," she said.

"The province is facing a $14-or-$15-billion deficit."

</who>Spending money locally makes sense, according to Kelowna-West Liberal MLA Ben Stewart.

Kelowna-West Liberal MLA Ben Stewart is also worried about provincial advertising spending.

"But, I don't see the spending changing," he said.

"Spending money locally makes sense. Local media deserves to be considered."

He also advocates balance between digital and local advertising.

Almost all citizens, businesses, organizations and governments in BC are touting 'buy local' and 'spend local' as strategies to keep companies and their employees in our own communities alive and dollars circulating in regional economies.

Yet, there are certainly hypocritical lapses when the government buys outside the province and businesses and individuals order online from US-and-international-based e-commerce mammoths like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.com.

As a Kelowna-based local media company, NowMedia Group has a vested interest in this subject.

By way of disclaimer, NowMedia has received no provincial government advertising nor funding.

NowMedia isn't crying foul for itself, but for all local media in BC.



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