[SYDNEY, NS] — Employees with Canada’s national broadcaster here are hoping they don’t receive a phone call today prior to a scheduled announcement of just where the CBC will cut its budget.
Wendy Martin, local president of the Canadian Media Guild, said Monday that employees were told last week they would receive a call before hearing any public announcement.
“As of today, I am not aware of anyone getting such a call,” Martin, a senior CBC radio reporter, said Monday. “This is certainly a very stressful time for employees.”
The Sydney unit employs some 15 full-time union members, along with several freelancers and casual employees.
Last week, CBC president Hubert Lacroix told employees the corporation will cut some 650 positions from its workforce and reduce original content on radio, TV and the Internet in order to cope with the federal budget cuts.
The Canadian Media Guild is expected to lose 275 members across the country by 2015. Early indications are that larger centres like Toronto, Montreal and Halifax are locations for major cutbacks.
The CBC has to trim its budget after losing $115 million in public funding over the next three years.
Meanwhile, it does appear that CBC offices and studios located on Alexandra Street are still destined to move into downtown Sydney to 500 George Place. Martin said the money for the move was already approved in the previous budget for the Sydney television and radio outlet.
Cuts to English programming are expected to be announced today by Kirstine Stewart, executive vice-president of CBC english services.
“These cuts will diminish Canadian content, hurt journalistic quality and take away more decent-paying jobs which the country can’t afford to lose,” said Martin Hanlon, Canadian director of the Communications Workers of America, which the Canadian Media Guild is affiliated with and which also represents workers at the Cape Breton Post.
Carmel Smyth, national president of the Canadian Media Guild, calls it "a depressing day for anyone who values quality journalism and Canadian programming".
The cuts are expected to reduce original programming for television, which will include fewer documentaries, scripted dramas and daytime children’s shows.
CBC will sell Bold, its digital station, as well as buildings in Calgary and Halifax and lease space back. The Halifax move will close the only turnkey TV production studio in Atlantic Canada.