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The President of CBC/Radio-Canada, Catherine Tait (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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Federal MPs want to hear in Ottawa from the president of CBC/Radio-Canada, Catherine Tait, who has just announced that the public broadcaster will have to reduce its workforce by 10%, without however excluding the possibility of granting bonuses to the directors of the state corporation.

The Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage unanimously agreed Thursday to summon the president of the public broadcaster to explain the cuts – and potential bonuses. The committee wants to hear from Ms. Tait at its first meeting of 2024, after the holiday break, but a date has not yet been set for that meeting.

In the meantime, the Bloc Québécois took advantage of question period to call on the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, to fire the current president of the public broadcaster if the latter does not renounce the elimination of the broadcaster. jobs.

Monday, 600 dismissals should not have been announced. It is, in fact, zero or just one. If Catherine Tait does not back down on her cuts, will the minister fire her? launched the Bloc spokesperson for this issue, Martin Champoux.

Ms. St-Onge then reiterated that by taking power in 2015, Justin Trudeau's Liberals reversed cuts that had been made by the Conservatives in funding to CBC/Radio-Canada.

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In a previous intervention , the minister invited CBC/Radio-Canada management to answer the questions people are currently asking regarding their compensation policy.

The public broadcaster that receives support from public funds is accountable to the Canadian population, she argued.

M. Champoux, who asked her if she maintained her confidence in Ms. Tait, said he was happy that the minister also wanted answers from the president of CBC/Radio-Canada.

MPs on the heritage committee agreed to report to the House that given the job cuts, it would be inappropriate for CBC/Radio-Canada to grant bonuses to management.

The public broadcaster's spokesperson, Leon Mar, said in an email Thursday that CBC/Radio-Canada was aware of the motion passed in committee and that its leaders were eager to answer questions from committee members.

Since the public broadcaster is independent of political powers, MPs cannot decide how CBC/Radio-Canada spends its budgets.

The state-owned corporation announced Monday that it plans to cut 600 jobs and not fill 200 vacant positions over the next year, as the public broadcaster grapples with a $125 million shortfall. dollars.

Asked on CBC News' flagship show The National if executives would receive bonuses this year despite the cuts, Ms Tait replied that it was too early to say. “We will review this, as we will all of our budget items in the coming months,” she said.

Mr. Mar confirmed in his email on Thursday that the public broadcaster would not reconsider the bonuses it would have paid under existing contracts. Changes to our existing compensation agreements with employees, whether unionized or not, are not under consideration at this time, Mar said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Liberal, Conservative and NDP MPs on the heritage committee expressed dismay at Ms Tait's comments on bonuses.

As x27;former CEO, I can't imagine having laid off employees before Christmas and then considering receiving a bonus, said Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed, who is also parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, on Thursday.

The government does not control Radio-Canada and therefore we cannot tell it what to do. But I think it's very important for us as parliamentarians to ask Ms Tait these questions, when she appears, about whether executives should consider bonuses. .

A quote from Taleeb Noormohamed, Liberal MP

CBC/Radio-Canada documents previously obtained through the Access to Information Act reveal that more than $99 million in bonuses were awarded to employees of the public broadcaster between 2015 and 2022. This The figure includes $16 million distributed last year to more than 1,100 employees – the highest amount paid out in at least seven years.

CBC/Radio-Canada defines its bonus program as a short-term incentive plan. It aims to encourage employee retention and motivate them to achieve or exceed business objectives that are aligned with our strategic plan, the broadcaster's spokesperson said earlier this week.

Moreover, voices were raised in Quebec to denounce the cuts which hit equally the English and French services of CBC/Radio-Canada, while the audience ratings in French from the public broadcaster are much superior.

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