Commitment to the Regions: CBC/Radio-Canada provides clarification

May 31, 2013, Ottawa

UPDATE: Further to the news release issued yesterday (May 30) by the SCFP and STARF, CBC/Radio-Canada would like to set the figures straight. It’s inaccurate to state that Radio-Canada is cutting a third of its technicians in Matane, Rimouski and Sept-Îles. The correct figure is actually 15%, or 3 out of 20 employees.

To stay relevant, CBC/Radio-Canada needs to transform its operations. This involves thinking and acting differently as we adapt to our new financial reality and evolving production methods.

In making this decision, we are doing our utmost to preserve the strength of our regional programming by creating a high-performance team capable of delivering content that’s more agile and closer to the communities we serve.

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Original text posted on May 17, 2013 –CBC/Radio-Canada wants to provide clarification following a news release issued by the SCFP yesterday which alleges that the public broadcaster has failed to reflect and showcase the regions.

First, we never hid the fact that the budget cuts would affect our operations. We faced some difficult choices, but all decisions were made with a very clear objective in mind: to protect regional programming as much as possible in line with our 2015: Everyone, Every way strategy. Regional programming is essential to our role as national public broadcaster. About 3,000 employees, which means a third of CBC/Radio-Canada full time employees work in the regions.

The budget cuts have indeed led to layoffs of SCFP members: 16.5 full-time positions since 2009. The SCFP represents approximately 600 of CBC/Radio-Canada’s 8,600 employees. Presently, 54 permanent employees represented by the SCFP are employed in regional bureaus in Quebec, the others work Montreal.

Of the total cutbacks implemented by CBC/Radio-Canada over the past four years, the network has absorbed 89% and the regions, only 11%.

- In 2009, we adopted a budget recovery plan to address a $171 million shortfall. About 81% of the reductions affected the network.

- In 2012, to address the reduction to our parliamentary appropriation announced in the federal budget, we had to cut $115 million as part of our Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP) and were forced to eliminate jobs.

- In 2012, we had to deal with the loss of the Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF), which represented an investment of $47 million per year to enhance service for viewers in 20 different markets. We protected the services that we had added, such as weekend newscasts in most of our markets, in both English and French; late-night local news on CBC; supper-hour news shows extended by 30 minutes in several markets; and enhanced coverage of local events, sports, and weather.

We are continuing our efforts to enhance our presence in the regions. Eastern Quebec will have its own weekend newscast starting this fall. We opened four multimedia stations in Quebec: Sherbrooke in 2009, Trois-Rivières in 2010, Saguenay in 2011, and Rimouski in 2012. We also upgraded our Rouyn facilities in 2012 and a sixth multimedia is due to open in the fall. We transferred digital teams to the regions to ensure that our stations can provide comprehensive news coverage on all of our platforms, including the web. These initiatives have allowed us to double the number of journalists assigned to the regions over the past 18 months.

On the CBC side, four other communities now have access to our services – Kamloops, Kitchener-Waterloo, Saskatoon and Hamilton, which has a fully digital station.

In closing, it’s true that our facilities have been streamlined and our work methods have changed. But through it all and despite financial pressures, our investment in regional centres has remained higher than ever.

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