The CBC has cost taxpayers $80 billion since 1937

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the CBC's $1.2 billion budget could pay the salaries of 7,600 new nurses with enough money to cover the annual grocery bills of more than 43,000 families after the fact.

The CBC has cost taxpayers $80 billion since 1937
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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With the media landscape facing persistent financial uncertainty, one outlet, in particular, remains impervious to tough times owing to generous government funding.

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

The taxpayers' group obtained records detailing the public broadcaster's pay raises through an access-to-information request. 

During the 2015/16 fiscal year, 438 full-time CBC employees took home six-figure salaries that cost taxpayers about $59.5 million. 

By the 2021/22 fiscal year, the CBC had 949 full-time employees who took home six-figure salaries, costing about $119.5 million. 

"Taxpayers don't need all these CBC employees making six figures," said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the CTF. "What value are taxpayers getting from all these extra CBC staffers with big salaries?"

Despite operating during financially feeble times, internal records uncovered that the public broadcaster did not cease expansion efforts during the COVID pandemic. 

CBC employees earning an annual salary exceeding $100,000 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 public broadcaster issued $51 million in bonuses and pay raises during the pandemic, with only one employee receiving a pay cut.

"The CBC shouldn't have doled out bonuses while taxpayers lost jobs and businesses during the pandemic," said Terrazzano. 

"If the CBC has enough money to hand out millions in bonuses and raises during a pandemic, taxpayers shouldn't be forced to fork over more money."

However, the CBC cost taxpayers $1.2 billion in 2021, 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

According to the CTF, the CBC's $1.2 billion budget could pay the salaries of 7,600 new nurses with enough money to cover the annual grocery bills of more than 43,000 families after the fact.

In November 2022, the taxpayers' group reported that the CBC paid 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 Blacklock's Reporter, Trudeau's cabinet controversially awarded CBC's former head Hubert Lacroix a retroactive 10.3% pay raise, despite leaving the public broadcaster five years ago.

Lacroix left the CBC in 2018, earning $428,000 annually. According to cabinet records, a cabinet order from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau retroactively raised his pay to $472,000 a year.

Since 2015, the CBC's annual funding has increased by $203 million, according to annual reports. 

But an analysis by the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC) of 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 that 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."

"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 FRPC analysis.

The FRPC estimates that the CBC has cost Canadian taxpayers approximately $80 billion since 1937.

"Canadians should be allowed to choose which news outlet to support voluntarily, and other media organizations shouldn't be forced to compete with the taxpayer-funded CBC," said Terrazzano. 

"It's time to defund the CBC."

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