Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Cuts at Radio-Canada: silence on the subject of bonuses

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Like many federal crown corporations, CBC/Radio-Canada must make budget cuts.

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CBC/Radio-Canada, which must reduce its budget by 125 million dollars, announced Monday the elimination of 800 positions, of which 200 are vacant, but the CEO of the public broadcaster is not saying, for the moment, what will happen to the bonuses paid to certain employees.

This is what emerges from an interview given by Catherine Tait to the presenter of the CBC newscast, Adrienne Arsenault, Monday evening, following the announcement of the extent of the cuts awaiting the state corporation . One 34-second exchange, in particular, was heavily commented on on social media.

Documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation under the Access to Information Act show that $16 million in bonuses were paid in 2022. Can we establish that this will not happen this year?, the National presenter asked Ms. Tait.

It's too early to say where we're at for this year. We will look at this as we do all our operations in the coming months, replied the CEO of the public broadcaster to the CBC journalist.

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Catherine Tait explained herself in an interview with CBC and Radio-Canada on Monday.

So there is a chance that bonuses will be paid while jobs will have been eliminated?, added Adrienne Arsenault. Again, I cannot comment on something that has not yet been discussed, replied Catherine Tait.

The 16 million of dollars paid in bonuses in 2022 represent the equivalent on average of $14,056 paid to 1,142 employees, according to calculations from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CCF) revealed in the spring.

Questioned in a press scrum on Tuesday, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, at the head of the ministry on which CBC/Radio-Canada depends, remained evasive. CBC/Radio-Canada must be accountable to the general public who own the corporation. You should redirect this question to them, replied the minister who later added that as a government, we do not have to interfere in their internal management.

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Regarding the 3% cuts requested from all Crown corporations (i.e. $125 million for CBC/Radio-Canada), Minister St-Onge left a door open. It's not necessarily something that will be applied without taking into consideration the impacts it may have, so the decision has not been made, she said.

In Quebec as in Ottawa, the announcement of these cuts caused a reaction. Quebec Minister of the French Language, Jean-François Roberge, deplored that the scale of the cuts was identical to Radio-Canada and CBC.

The right to be informed and entertained in French is important. […] Cuts like that don't make sense: we're making Radio-Canada French pay for the CBC's setbacks.

A quote from Jean-François Roberge, Quebec Minister of the French Language

An opinion shared by the leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Paul St-Pierre Plamondon. ICI Télé has an audience of 25%, while it is 6% at the CBC. The CBC is not breaking through… It is not up to Radio-Canada to pay, said the leader of the PQ, who believes that no amount obtained from Google should be paid to the state corporation.

Cuts at CBC/Radio-Canada: the view of political buffs

For his part, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, who promised, if he is elected, to bring down the ax in the state corporation – more at CBC than at Radio-Canada, according to what he said previously –, ;did not fail to comment on the announcement of the cuts.

CBC says it is bankrupt again and laying off staff. And that’s after paying $99 million in bonuses to incompetent executives and liberal spokespeople. I bet none of Trudeau's favorite spokespersons will be abandoned: they will get more bonuses, he wrote on X (ex-Twitter) on Monday.

This sum of $99 million corresponds to bonuses paid between 2015 and 2022 by CBC/Radio-Canada, according to FCC calculations.

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