Bill C-461 and CBC/Radio-Canada: What does it mean for us?

March 27, 2013, Ottawa

On March 26, Members of Parliament completed the second reading debate of Bill C-461, a Private Members Bill with implications for CBC/Radio-Canada. The Bill was introduced by Edmonton-St. Albert Brent Rathgeber.

Bill C-461 includes two key elements:

  1. An amendment to the Privacy Act that would remove privacy protections on individual salary information for those who earn more than $188,600 per year. This would apply to the entire public service as well as employees of Crown Corporations including CBC/Radio-Canada;
  2. An amendment to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to modify the current protections for “journalistic, creative or programming activities.

What is our position?

Regarding amendments to the Access to Information Act, the Bill would remove the current protections for information related to journalistic, creative and programming activities, replacing the “exclusion” from the current Access to Information Act with an “exemption” subject to an injury test. Rather than protecting these activities, the Bill would put the onus on CBC/Radio-Canada to demonstrate that the release of this particular information would harm the corporation’s independence. Parliamentarians specifically excluded these activities to safeguard the Corporation’s independence. We believe that this Bill will in fact recreate the uncertainty about the rules surrounding Access to Information which were clarified by the Federal Court of Appeal decision in November of 2011. Parliamentarians specifically excluded these activities to safeguard the Corporation’s independence.

The Corporation is committed to being transparent and accountable to Canadians. We believe that our record, a grade of “A” from the Access to Information Commissioner, our clean audit from the Auditor General of Canada, and our ongoing proactive disclosure, speaks for itself.

In our case, the salary ranges of CBC/Radio-Canada employees, as well as the ranges and benefits for senior executives is already public information under access to information. We do not believe that removing an individual’s privacy rights with respect to their exact salary is necessary or consistent with the expectation that we maximize public value in a highly competitive business environment.

What have we done?

We have shared our concerns with the sponsor of the Bill, with Government, and with key Members of Parliament. If the Bill passes 2nd reading this week we will seek to share our views with the Committee responsible for studying the Bill.

You can read the legislation here.

Articles:

www.thewirereport.ca/briefs/2013/02/13/cbc-disclosure-bill-debated-in-house/26322

www.ledevoir.com/societe/medias/374159/la-societe-d-etat-des-secrets

www.cjfe.org/resources/features/private-bill-c-461-threatens-cbc-journalistic-integrity-and-protection-sources

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, Internet, and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages.

For additional information, please contact:
  • Angus McKinnon
    Director, Communications Services and Corporate Spokesperson
    tel. 613-288-6235
    cel. 613-296-1057
    angus.mckinnon@cbc.ca

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