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Impending layoffs at Ontario’s public broadcaster

Up to ten Canadian Media Guild positions are being eliminated at TVOntario as a result of the public service broadcaster’s budget plan for the 2005-06 fiscal year. The broadcaster is owned and operated by the Ontario government.

Although revenue from the province is not decreasing, a large percentage of funding is targeted to several educational initiatives, rather than to on-air programming. This reduces TVOntario’s operating budget by 4.7
million dollars.

Two TVO series, the long-running and award-winning “Imprint” and the health series “Second Opinion”, are to be cancelled. Other series on both the English and French networks will undergo a belt-tightening exercise.

“Management has stated that its priority this year is to generate more revenue. At the same time, though, our capacity to produce programs is being cut back,” says the Guild’s TVO branch president, Carol Burtin Fripp.

TVOntario management has identified a total of ten CMG positions that will be affected by the proposed changes to programs and programming priorities. TVOntario’s stated goal is to reduce its overall number of employees – CMG members and others – by approximately 8 per cent, or 40 positions, over the course of the 2005-06 fiscal year.

The CMG is following the process closely to ensure that individual members’ rights are protected. “It gives a whole new meaning to the expression ‘lean and mean’. We’re concerned that some of the layoffs appear to be targeting specific people rather than jobs,” says CMG staff representative Keith Maskell.

The collective agreement between the Guild and TVOntario contains very specific language to deal with staff reductions. If positions absolutely have to disappear, we want to make sure that the process is fair and
objective, and not used to get rid of particular employees.

For more information, please contact Carol Burtin Fripp at 416-484-2628 or call the CMG office at 416-591-5333 or 1-800-465-4149.

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