Home / Workplace Directory / CBC/Radio-Canada / “Oh, by the way, we’re eviscerating CBC-TV”

“Oh, by the way, we’re eviscerating CBC-TV”

Have we become so immune to big job cuts and the closure of entire departments at the CBC that it is now acceptable to announce them as an “Update”? And why would the confirmed closure of CBC-TV’s design department be of interest to Toronto staff only?

You may be hearing it here first, but it is a sad time for the CBC.

Last Thursday, CBC management put out a feeble four-paragraph email, called “Toronto Production Centre Update”, and only sent it around the Toronto broadcast centre. In it was news that the CBC is going ahead with the closure of the Toronto Production Centre’s design department at the end of May, which will result in 49 job cuts. And, just so you know, another 15 jobs are being cut from a variety of other departments.

Here’s what the “update” never explained:

The TV design closure will mean the loss of the very ability for the CBC to produce television in-house. Take a look at the actual job categories affected, some of which will be eliminated altogether: scenic artists, art directors, special effects technicians, scenic constructors, carpenters, designers, set decorators, make-up/hairdressers, costume designers, and broadcast technicians (most of them involved in lighting), and senior radio and TV assistants. These people are the creators of the “look” you see on CBC television. Their skills will be lost to the public broadcaster forever.

The CBC may consider this closure an “update” because it had been first announced last spring. After pressure from the Guild ? and, we understand, from within the CBC ? to save it, the CBC agreed to delay the closure until May 31 of this year.

What we got yesterday wasn’t an “update”. It was the first public confirmation that the CBC is truly getting out of producing its television programs itself. CBC management rejected out-of-hand a proposal by the Guild to explore setting up an employee co-operative to continue the services that CBC programs depend on, right inside the CBC building.

In the same “update” was news that 15 more people in the Toronto Production Centre were getting redundancy notices. You should know more about the kinds of employees being affected here, too: there are two supervising technicians, two schedulers, two videographers, two character generators, a supervising stagehand, a broadcast technician, a trades technician and an associate director. Most have more than twenty years’ experience. There are also two long-time supervisors represented by APS.

The email says nothing about the valuable contributions this long-serving group has and expresses no regret. The email does tell us that CBC management will be working to make this “transition as smooth as possible throughout this period of change”.
Well, I know layoffs are common at the CBC. I know we at the Guild will do what we can to ensure these 15 get the money they are owed or exercise their right to bump or whatever suits them best. It’s all become so bloody routine.

But has it really gotten to the point that we can’t stand up and say it will be sad, very sad, to see our colleagues and friends going out the door? Shouldn’t we be appalled that the CBC has to resort to this every year? This wasn’t an “update”. The memo yesterday was a symptom of something profoundly worse: that the upper floors in the CBC are so consumed by the bottom line that no one seems affected when the talented and creative people behind CBC’s actual programs (remember those?) are lost forever.

Lise Lareau
National President

Find Member Resources

Popular Topics

Scroll to Top