Speaking notes for Catherine Tait, President and CEO, at the Annual Public Meeting

September 25, 2018


I’m also delighted to be in Edmonton and to welcome you all to our 2018 Annual Public Meeting.

Since I started at CBC/Radio-Canada in July, I’ve been on a bit of a listening and learning tour. I’ve met with the employees and stakeholders in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Thunder Bay and Iqaluit, and visited Vancouver yesterday.

We are meeting with you today. I want to know what you think of the services we provide to you; this is important to us.

To date, what I’ve been hearing is how much public broadcasting matters to Canadians, more than ever.

They depend on us; for reliable information about them, their community and the world; for a civilized, respectful place where they can engage with each other about the things that are important to them—whether that’s on radio, television or online; and for a place to hear, and share, compelling Canadian stories.

I think of programs like CBC Edmonton’s investigative series into Pure North. That was a 14-month investigation into how public money was being spent and what it could mean to people’s health here. It triggered government action. The series was nominated for the prestigious Michener Award for public-service journalism; and that’s precisely what it is. Great public service journalism. In your community.

Then there’s Radio-Canada Alberta; a lifeline to Franco-Albertans—as Radio-Canada is to so many francophones across the country. We believe it’s important for French-Canadians outside of Quebec and English-speaking Quebecers to have access to media that tell their stories.

By the way, congratulations to the Radio-Canada Alberta team on their award from the Association canadienne française de l’Alberta! They’re being recognized for having an impact on the overall development of Alberta Francophonie.

That’s your public broadcaster. Serving Canadians; through 88 radio stations, 27 television stations and 41 regional websites; incredibly popular podcasts (CBC podcasts are downloaded 16 million times per month); the new CBC Kids News digital platform; CBC North, which serves communities across the territories and in Northern Quebec; and two amazing streaming services: ICI TOU.TV, which is now regarded as the French alternative to Netflix in Canada, and our soon to be re-launched, CBC GEM. The destination for the best Canadian stories, from anywhere.


From my conversations with Canadians, it is clear to me that our mandate; to inform, enlighten and entertain Canadians, is more relevant than ever. Yes, our future is in digital. That’s where Canadians are.

And things like podcasts, Facebook Live and social media allow us to connect Canadians with each other in a way we couldn’t before. But for many Canadians, TV and radio are their connection. We need to be there too.

As you’ve probably heard, the Government is in the midst of modernizing its Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts for today’s media landscape. We’re a big part of that. I want to hear what people value about public broadcasting, and what we can do better in the future.

What’s important is that you see yourself in your public broadcaster.

And this brings me to our focus for this public meeting; diversity and inclusion. It’s important for all of us, but I believe it’s essential for a public broadcaster. We can’t serve the public without it.

We’ve been doing a pretty good job of trying to ensure that all Canadians are heard on our airwaves; that they—and their children—see themselves reflected on their public broadcaster.

So far this year we’ve been able to hire more Indigenous People, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities. New diversity hires made up 27.2% of our workforce in Q1 2018-2019; our best first-quarter result since we started tracking this. We’re also a leader in gender parity among Canadian media; 48.9% of our employees are women.

These aren’t just numbers. If we’re going to be your public broadcaster we need a range of talent that reflects the richness of this country, the perspectives, the experiences, the diversity.

With that in mind, I’m pleased to help launch our new 2018-2021 Diversity and Inclusion Plan.

It sets clear objectives, targets and a plan to get there. It will build on what we’ve been doing, and it will make our content, our workplace culture and our workforce better.

We’ve widened our thinking from focusing on numbers and compliance to thinking about what kind of organization we need to be to serve you better.


I want to hear what you think but before we begin the discussion, I would like to thank our hosts for this year’s event: Andrew Chang from The National and Myriam Fehmiu from ICI Musique.

I would also like to thank, in advance, our panel (Paul, Padminee, Patricia and James) who will be sharing their views on inclusivity and storytelling.

I am looking forward to our discussion.

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