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We interrupt this blog to let other people talk about the Treasury Board and CBC

Posted on 2 May 2013

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Wikipedia note for international readers: “The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (French: Société Radio-Canada), commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster. Radio-Canada is the national French-language broadcast arm of the corporation.”

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I’m interested in the future of the CBC, and have been for years as a listener and fan. Now I’m an employee, which is awesome. However, it does make me aware that anything I have to say about the current headlines about the organization will be taken with a grain of salt.

For that reason, I’m not actually going to express any of my own thoughts on this, but instead point you to a number of other sources-including statements from government- so you can form your own opinion. This is not comprehensive by any means, but the below links will give you a quick overview.

Globe and Mail – Harper tightening the reins on CBC, Via Rail and Canada Post:

“A section of the budget bill gives the federal cabinet the explicit power to give Crown corporations orders as to how they should negotiate with employees, both unionized and non-unionized. Further, the bill gives the government the power to have a Treasury Board official sit in on collective bargaining negotiations at Crown corporations.”

Globe and Mail – We don’t work for ‘union bosses,’ Tories say, taking aim at CBC, Via, Canada Post

“On Wednesday morning following a Conservative caucus meeting, both Mr. Clement and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty declined to answer questions from reporters. Instead the government position was expressed by Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Poilievre, an MP Prime Minister Stephen Harper often relies on to stir controversy and speak for the government on hot files.

“‘I am not here to take marching orders from union bosses,’ said Mr. Poilievre. ‘I represent taxpayers and frankly taxpayers expect us to keep costs under control so that we can keep taxes down. It is for those taxpayers that we work. Not union bosses.’

“The government said in the 2013 budget that it wants Crown corporations to move to a 50/50 cost sharing arrangement between employees and employers for pensions. It also wants retirement ages at Crown corporations to be aligned with recent changes in the core public service.

“‘Any liabilities from a Crown corporation are passed on to taxpayers. We are the representatives of Canada’s taxpayers and we have a responsibility to ensure that those Crown corporations live within their means and that the costs are kept affordable to Canadian taxpayers,’ he said. ‘Our focus is on low tax, low-spending government that eliminates the deficit on time and on schedule and this is part of the package to make that happen.'”

The Hill Times – Feds threatening journalist independence of CBC under new power over wages, benefits, collective bargaining, say critics:

“Canada’s leading proponent of public broadcasting called the measure a step toward ‘radio Moscow’ after The Hill Times reported on the proposal on Tuesday in the government’s bill to implement the March budget sparking an outcry shortly after the story was posted.

“Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, which has for years promoted continued government funding for the CBC as well as its independence from the government of the day, made the comment after news of the Conservative government’s plan created a storm of denunciation on Twitter and also drew strong NDP and Liberal criticism in Parliament.

“‘It’s moving in the direction away from the kind of independence that we need in a democratic society from the public broadcaster, especially at a time of huge concentration of ownership and decision-making in the private sector broadcasting. It’s very troubling. I suppose they might have thought it would slip through and no one would notice,’ Mr. Morrison said.”

Andrew Coyne – The real question that the AG report raises but nobody will ask

“The question many people would ask nowadays about VIA, Canada Post and the CBC is not “why isn’t the government sitting in on their labour negotiations,” but why do these three organizations exist in their present form? Is a heavily subsidized state monopoly really the only way to run a railroad? What does it even mean to maintain a state monopoly on first-class mail, when fewer and fewer people send letters of any kind? What purpose does a publicly funded, general-interest broadcaster serve when broadcasting itself is disappearing, as it were, before our eyes?”

CBC/Radio-Canada’s statement on Bill C-60:

“We are keenly aware of the financial realities facing Canadians. CBC/Radio-Canada has not asked Government for additional funding for many years. In 2012, the Corporation’s budget was cut $115 million dollars as part of CBC/Radio-Canada’s contribution to the government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP).

“Despite the loss of 800 jobs during the financial crisis and 650 jobs as a result of DRAP, CBC/Radio-Canada has managed to preserve and, in the case of regional stations, actually expand the services it provides. We have continued to implement our Strategy 2015, which has been endorsed by the Government. We have continued to develop and showcase very popular Canadian programming across our networks. We are still the only broadcaster with so much Canadian programming in prime time, when Canadians are watching television.

“All of this is possible because of the support of Canadian taxpayers. CBC/Radio-Canada values and respects that support. To demonstrate that it is using those resources responsibly, it reports to Parliament and Canadians, the CRTC, and the Auditor-General of Canada. In February 2013, the Auditor General’s special examination confirmed that CBC/Radio-Canada manages its assets efficiently and economically.

“CBC/Radio-Canada supports the Government’s goal of ensuring that compensation and benefits are aligned with the private sector. That is why, for the past several years, the Corporation has used an independent Human Resources advisor, Mercer, to benchmark what we pay our employees compared to the industry in which we are required to operate. Salary increases at the Corporation have averaged 1.9% over the past seven years. Salaries in the private sector have increased an average of 3% over the same period.”

You may also be interested in some other commentary about CBC in recent years:

Filed under: CBC

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