By Andrew Kozak
The CBC paid $30 million in Covid bonuses to over 1000 employees amounting to roughly $15,000 each in 2020 and 2021, even though the state broadcaster reported draining ad revenue and a lack of funding from the government at the time.
Figures showed a total of $15,013,838 paid to 1034 employees in 2020, resulting in $14,520 each and a total of $15,398,101 to 1033 employees in 2021, at the sum of $14,906 for each employee. Access To Information records obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter detailed payments to bonuses to unidentified executives at the CBC.
During this time, the CBC was forced to lay off 11 staff at its Radio Canada International division and required a $21 million government bailout during the pandemic, in addition to its $1.5 billion annual federal grant.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges of covering it put immense pressure on CBC’s workforce, operations, finances and systems,” said an April 20, 2021 cabinet briefing on Funding Support For The CBC. “The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also put additional pressure on its cash flow.”
In the first quarter of 2020, the CBC reported a $15 million decrease in revenue and $10 million increase in government funding as compared to the first quarter of the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The second quarter saw a further decrease in revenue by $10 million and $4 million decrease in government funding. The CBC’s revenue again decreased in the third quarter by $5 million while funding increased by a total of $20 million.
A spokesperson with CBC Leon Mar told the National Post the bonuses were paid out as part of the corporation’s broader business plan, meant to “focus collective and individual efforts on achieving the Corporation’s objective.”
During the pandemic, the state broadcaster halted its local newscasts in major Canadian cities in an effort to reduce its costs.
At the time, the general manager of news Susan Marjetti said this decision was being made to “temporary pool our resources.”
“Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures,” said Marjetti.
The CBC’s decision led to a backlash from many MPs, who claimed their constituents relied on the local newscasts for their news.
“I cannot stress how shortsighted this would be,” wrote then-Liberal MP Scott Simms for Coast of Bays, NL, chair of the Commons heritage committee.
“This lack of understanding and focus as to the proper role of a public broadcaster is deeply concerning and it brings into serious question the judgment of executives in times of crisis,” wrote then-Liberal MP Wayne Easter.
“In Prince Edward Island CBC is the only TV network that provides important coverage of the premier and cabinet ministers.”