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Ottawa evokes a possible help to CBC/Radio-Canada

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Ottawa plans to help CBC/Radio-Canada as the public broadcaster plans major cuts.

The Canadian Press

Ottawa plans to come to the aid of CBC/Radio-Canada at a time when the public broadcaster plans major cuts, including the elimination of 10% of its workforce, in order to close a $125 million budget deficit.

In past years, we put money into CBC/Radio-Canada to fill the structural deficit, so there is also a budgetary decision that will come, declared the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge. , upon his arrival at the Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa.

The government is reported to have paid additional aid of $21 million during each of the last three years.

Pascale St-Onge also mentioned that a decision is pending on whether and to what extent the state corporation will be affected by the savings of 3% announced in the last federal budget, sums that Ottawa wishes to recover in government departments and agencies.

When we are ready to say what is going to happen on the CBC/Radio-Canada side, we will do it, the minister simply mentioned.

Before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, the president and CEO of the public broadcaster, Catherine Tait, refused to rule out the possibility that bonuses would be paid to executives for the current year.

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Questioned about this in the foyer of the House of Commons, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, responded point blank: I think she should be shown the door.

Ms. St-Onge, who appeared a few moments later in front of journalists, did not want to reiterate her confidence in the CEO, but she nevertheless judged that Ms. Tait has a role to play during the period difficult that the public broadcaster is going through at the moment, just like all Canadian media.

In an email to The Canadian Press, CBC/Radio-Canada said the 3% spending reduction represents $38 million over three years. The Bloc and New Democrats believe that the public broadcaster must be exempt from these cuts.

The Conservative Party avoided commenting on this issue but promises to abolish public funding of the English network and transform its Toronto headquarters into housing if he comes to power.

In addition, while decisions remain to be made, the Liberal government reiterates that it wishes to redefine the mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada before the next election in order to protect the public broadcaster against a possible change of government in Ottawa.

Again on Wednesday, Minister St-Onge insisted on the annual structural deficit incurred by the public broadcaster, in particular due to the drop in advertising revenue. So I'm looking to the future to ensure sustainability, she said.

CBC/Radio-Canada announced at the beginning of December the elimination of 600 jobs and the abolition of 200 vacant positions. The Crown corporation estimates this will save $60 million. The rest of the deficit would be absorbed by cuts of $25 million in discretionary spending and $40 million in independent productions.

At the federal government, sources had indicated that the cuts were premature, even a little ridiculous. They suggested that CBC/Radio-Canada has no indication that its budget will be cut. State, CBC/Radio-Canada operates independently of Parliament. The broadcaster receives about $1 billion in federal funding each year.

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