CBC president 'misled' Parliament on the broadcaster's financial woes

'Miss [Catherine] Tait actually lied to the committee here,' said Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, regarding the CBC's supposed financial woes. Tait will answer questions next month on the $96.1 million budget increase and payment of $14.9 million in executive bonuses last year.

CBC president 'misled' Parliament on the broadcaster's financial woes
The Canadian Press / Spencer Colby
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The embattled head of CBC must testify again before the Commons heritage committee after she misled Parliament on their budget hike and millions in executive bonuses.

Catherine Tait, the CEO and president of the state broadcaster, reportedly lied to the House of Commons on its financial woes.

Tait last December 4 announced CBC layoffs over a $125 million budget shortfall. The committee warned broadcaster executives at the time to forgo annual bonuses to save on costs.

“Given the job cuts announced at CBC for 2024 it would be inappropriate for the CBC to grant bonuses to executive members,” MPs wrote in a report to Parliament. 

Tait further testified January 30 that the network “faces chronic underfunding” and had to “stretch limited resources to meet our mandate.” However, cabinet confirmed on February 29 that the CBC would receive $96.1 million in additional funding this year — a record $1.38 billion, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Miss Tait actually lied to the committee here,” said Conservative MP Kevin Waugh. “She has misled Canadians. She came in here saying, ‘I need to drop 10 percent of the CBC staff,’ over 800 jobs.”

On Wednesday, MPs voted 6-5 to summon Tait for questioning by April 9. The committee adopted a Bloc Québécois motion that she “answer questions concerning the increase in funding to the public broadcaster of nearly $100 million” and the payment of $14.9 million in executive bonuses.

That number could rise further, given the data is up to date "as of Oct. 26, 2023," reported the Canadians Taxpayers Federation (CTF)

“It is astounding to me how you can reduce 800 employees at CBC and still give out nearly $15 million in performance bonuses,” said Waugh. Access To Information records disclosed March 12 by the Taxpayers Federation said the CBC paid at least $14,902,755 million in bonuses last year to 1,143 CBC staffers.

“[Bonus] pay… is a key part of the total compensation of our non-union staff, about 1,140 employees,” she told the parliamentary committee in January. Since 2015, the state broadcaster has issued $114 million in bonuses.

“CBC President Catherine Tait is wrong to hand out bonuses while announcing hundreds of job losses and begging the government for more taxpayer cash,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. 

“Tait won’t do the right thing, so Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge needs to step in and shut down these bonuses,” he added.

However, St-Onge earlier told reporters she considered their finagling a CBC-centric problem. “I will let them answer those questions,” she said.

“Should they accept these bonuses?” asked a reporter. “Everybody at CBC right now needs to consider the financial situation and impact it has on employees at large,” replied St-Onge.

The Taxpayers Federation previously uncovered millions more in bonuses, including $15,013,838 in 2020 to 1,034 employees and $16,052,148 the following year to 108 more employees. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, actual bonuses to individual executives are confidential. However, Tait’s predecessor Hubert Lacroix testified his “bonus was around 20 percent or 21 percent.”

Lacroix, who left CBC in 2018, earned $428,000 per year. Tait is paid $497,000 a year.

The Taxpayer’s Federation earmarked her annual pay at between $472,900 and $623,900, which includes salary, bonus and other benefits, according to the CBC’s senior management compensation summary. 

Cabinet last spring extended Tait’s tenure to January 3, 2025, with the search for her successor expected to take place this winter.

“Tait should be taking a pay cut and ending bonuses,” said Terrazzano. “It’s time for the government to end the taxpayer-funded bonuses at the CBC.”

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