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Austerity budget: another reason to push for CBC/Radio-Canada

There was nothing in this week’s federal budget that directly affects the CBC, and according to CLC’s budget analysis, nothing in it for workers either. We are in the final year of absorbing a three-year $115-milion cut announced in 2012, and we know the federal government is stomping ahead with plans to force Crown Corporations to adjust  pension contributions to a 50% shared cost between the employer and employees. That would shift the amount CBC employees contribute to their  CBC/CMG pension from a 40/60 split to a 50/50 split, meaning the employees would contribute more.

As we fight this constant  whittling away of a prized national institution, CBC  also tells us  it is reassessing its financial position in the fallout from the loss of NHL hockey rights, and other financial pressures more ominously hinted at in the President’s recent email as  “dark clouds” on the horizon.

And all this is happening in the midst of significant reviews, designed one would hope to improve public broadcasting not gut it.  A Senate review into how  the CBC serves Canadians, (report due in 2015),  has given little indication of its goals (it certainly could distract from the Senate’s more interesting scandals). And the CRTC is reviewing television in Canada.  We are monitoring both of these closely and plan to present our view, both in a written report and in person.

Judging by the amount of attention CBC is getting this year, it’s clear that this is an institution that’s truly crucial to Canadians across the country. Sadly, that prominence and the supports it requires are not reflected in the Conservative budget tabled this week.

We expect to have more meetings with CBC management over the next while for updates on their financial situation.

CMG continues to advocate for sustainable funding so that the public broadcaster does not have to fight persistent, debilitating cuts that hobble long-term planning.

And we are not alone – more proof that partnering with the public pays off – as early indications are that the reviewing committees are hearing a significant amount of heartfelt support for CBC.

Carmel Smyth,
National President, CMG

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