Cuts to a federal Canadian government funding program will hurt the ability of Canadian musicians to make contacts outside of the country, according to the head of the country's independent labels.

"More and more, Canadian musicians and music companies are depending on export revenues through sales and live performances to survive," says Duncan McKie, director of the Canadian Independent Recording Industry Association (CIRPA). "Direct access to foreign markets is critical to stimulate new sales outside of Canada."

Stewart's comments were made in regards to a decision by the government to kill the $4.7 million Canadian ($4.4 million) PromArt program run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The program was designed to provide travel funding to artists and arts-based organizations.

According to local media reports, the program was ended by the Conservative administration because financing had gone to too many left-field artists. Canadian electronic band Fucked Up and Toronto's now defunct Rheostatics were among acts identified as beneficiaries of the scheme.

Funding from PromArt supported CIRPA's successful trade mission to Japan last year, which saw 21 Canadian music companies take part and yielded $1.4 million Canadian ($1.3 million) in deals, according to McKie. A similar trip is scheduled this year, and while McKie says funding for that one is safe, the cuts could hurt future trips.

"I would say this is significant and will represent a funding challenge for us for our trade events," he adds.