Censorship in Canada and How to Bypass It (Using VPN)

Abeerah Hashim Last updated: May 25, 2023 Read time: 12 minutes Disclosure

This detailed guide highlights the recent risks of internet restrictions in Canada and the best VPNs to bypass such censorship.

Although Canada used to be a privacy-friendly country and is still better than repressive regions like China, it now risks content censorship. Particularly, the recently passed “Online Streaming Act” (Bill C-11) threatens Canadian users with content restrictions from the authorities. Nonetheless, a robust VPN can regain your internet freedom in Canada. And since VPNs are legal in Canada, you don’t risk any legal issues if you use one to bypass content censorship.

You might wonder, “Is VPN even legal in Canada?” Yes, it is. You will not get into trouble for using a VPN in Canada to bypass content restrictions and censorship, as it is entirely legal.

Canada does not top the list when you think of censorship. Still, with the introduction of Bill C-11, Internet Service Providers are required to monitor your activities online to ensure that you do not breach copyright regulations.

This article explains the meaning of this bill for internet users in Canada and provides ways to bypass this censorship.

Canada and media censorship

Canada believes freedom of speech is essential to a prosperous and safe society. According to Freedom House, an international watchdog organization, “Canada has a strong history of respect for political rights and civil liberties.”

However, freedom of speech does not translate to any absence of censorship. The recent Bill C-11, the updated version of Bill C-10, broadens the broadcasting act and includes platforms like Spotify, TikTok, and YouTube.

This bill gives the Canadian authorities a significant level of control over the web. However, it would limit what you can stream or browse as it mainly targets user-generated content.

Below is a detailed overview of the Canadian media landscape.

Broadcast media

Canada is the first country to make use of geostationary satellites for broadcasting. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), founded in 1968, regulates the broadcast media in Canada. 

CRTC is in charge of establishing networks and private stations. It also states the amount of content that needs to be originally Canadian. Over the last two years, they have gotten more authority.

With this much power, the CRTC has decided that broadcasters need to include a minimum amount of Canadian Content (CanCon) as follows:

  • 35% of commercial radio stations
  • 55% of all programs on broadcast television stations
  • 50% of CBC and Radio Canada stations

Even though the aim is to promote Canadian talent and creators, this is still censorship. For this reason, there have been critics of what the regulation qualifies as “Canadian Content” as some productions whose filming takes place in Canada and employ Canadian nationals might not be eligible.

Freedom of press

Generally, Canada sees media freedom as an essential part of democratic societies and a vital tool in protecting human rights. With this, media outlets operate independently and are free from governmental or political control.

In June 2019, updated guidelines were launched by Canada to support human rights defenders worldwide with specifics that applied to journalists. Notwithstanding, first-world countries still face challenges regarding media freedom, especially when it concerns protests, rights, and land disputes.

It is also notable that the media landscape in Canada has a precise concentration of power, as five corporations own over 80% of all media.