CBC cuts 10% of workforce following years of reckless spending: report

The CBC's annual budget has increased by $203 million since Justin Trudeau first became prime minister, according to its annual reports. Since 2015, the number of network employees taking home six-figure salaries has increased yearly, with an average annual bonus and pay raise of $14,200 and $1,800, respectively. 

CBC cuts 10% of workforce following years of reckless spending: report
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On Monday, Canada's state broadcaster eliminated 600 jobs amid reports of a significant budget shortfall and out-of-control spending by executives

According to spokesperson Leon Mar, both the CBC and Radio-Canada, its French-language arm, will cut 250 jobs each, while another 100 employees will be let go from other corporate divisions

Although most of the cuts are expected to occur immediately, some will take effect next year.

CBC CEO Catherine Tait suggested inflationary pressures, mounting production costs, and declining ad revenues “created a perfect storm.”

Naomi Robinson, the corporation’s union branch president, said the network cut jobs due to mounting financial hardship in recent decades, courtesy of successive cuts.

"These job losses will impose additional burdens on employees who are already grappling with making ends meet on wages that have not kept pace with the rising cost of living," she penned in a media statement.

However, the network’s annual budget has increased by $203 million since Justin Trudeau first became prime minister, according to its annual reports. 

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the number of CBC staffers taking home six-figure salaries has increased yearly since 2015.

In November 2022, they reported more than $156 million in bonuses and pay raises since 2015 — an average annual bonus and pay raise of $14,200 and $1,800, respectively. 

According to records detailing their raises, the network went from 438 full-time employees taking home six-figure salaries in 2015/2016 to 949 full-time employees in 2021/2022. Those costs doubled from $59.5 million to $119.5 million during that period.

Despite receiving $1.3 billion in taxpayer dues to fund its mandate last fiscal year, the CBC managed to squander those funds into a potential $125 million shortfall. They blamed the “fierce competition from the digital giants” for the current fiscal tightening.

To recuperate funds, the network has cut $40 million from independent production commissions and program acquisitions, and millions more from its English and French programming budgets. Of the former, CBC will absorb a $25 million hit while Radio-Canada has $15 million less to spend. 

Another $25 million would be cut by limiting travel, sponsorships and marketing, and delaying technology initiatives, reported the CBC.

With the media landscape facing financial uncertainty, they no longer remain impervious to tough times with competitor outlets also in rapid financial decline.

In June, Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) Inc. axed 1,300 positions and shuttered nine radio stations.

Months ago, Toronto Star and other newspapers also cut 600 jobs, representing 60% of its workforce after its parent company sought bankruptcy protection.

Moreover, the Crown corporation is also expecting "forecast reductions" to its annual budget next year to offset revenue losses during the COVID pandemic.

Its 2021 annual budget cost taxpayers $1.2 billion, which included $21 million in "immediate operational support" to ensure its "stability during the pandemic."

On top of the pandemic relief, Ottawa allocated an additional "$42 million to help CBC/Radio-Canada recover from the pandemic," as first reported by the National Post. 

Despite being hamstrung then, internal records show the network did not cease expansion efforts.

The number of employees earning a six-figure salary rose 14% in 2020/21 and 13% in 2021/22, resulting in 220 more employees receiving a six-figure wage than before the pandemic.

Additionally, the state broadcaster paid out $51 million in bonuses and raises to executives during the pandemic, with only one employee receiving a pay cut.

In 2020/2021, 1,034 employees earned $15,013,838 in salaries, with 1,033 employees earning $15,398,101 the following fiscal year. 

Records show that 144 corporate directors grossed $135,388 annually on average, excluding bonuses and expenses.

According to Blacklock's Reporter, the Trudeau Liberals awarded CBC's former head Hubert Lacroix a retroactive 10.3% pay raise, despite leaving the state broadcaster five years ago. He left in 2018, earning $428,000 annually. 

Amid reports of pending job cuts, Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge defended the broadcaster, telling reporters Monday she hopes to start revamping its mandate "as soon as possible."

"Even though there is a very difficult media crisis impacting all our broadcasters right now, we still need to revise CBC/Radio-Canada's mission and mandate and make sure that it fits the current situation, but still making sure that we have a strong public broadcaster," said St-Onge.

However, the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC) said the CBC's annual reports from 1937 to 2019 uncovered significant "inconsistencies in [the] presentation" of its data, which made it difficult to track the broadcaster's funding and performance.

It states the annual reports provide "little objective information" about the CBC's fulfillment of its mandate and "so little consistent historical financial information" that parliament's support for its operations "cannot be easily assessed." 

They estimated total costs at $80 billion for the network since 1937.

"CBC today provides little, if any, detailed information about the availability of its services in Canada and their use by the public, or about the programming that it produces each year," reads the analysis.

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  • By Tamara Ugolini

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