Bell Media has shifted gears and is now focusing on growing their streaming platforms. However, this comes at a great cost to many media outlets in Canada. The most affected jobs are with CTV news and a Montreal radio station called CJAD. The Union that currently represents Bell Media is extremely put off by this news.
Howard Law, a Unifor Media Director commented, “Our democracy, our right to be informed and to push back against the tide of false information relies on a strong media sector. Bell media has said that news gathering is sacred, but that doesn’t appear to be the case when cuts are being made.”
A spokesperson for Bell Media released a statement that they had “cut an unspecified number of staff”.
During research we have found that so far the count stands at 210 employees and union members losing their jobs. Most of the cuts are in Toronto but there are several others throughout the country. The positions that have been announced to be cut are field camera operators, on-air broadcast roles, administration roles and sales staff. As well as some support staff that are temporarily laid off as it is impossible to create some local tv shows because of COVID.
Law had this to say about some of the roles. “They’re laying off camera operators which has to mean less news coverage unless they expect everybody else to work twice as hard.”
This is quite shocking news as back in November of 2019, the liberal government had formed a plan to set aside $600 million for tax credits and some other incentives specifically to aid news outlets that may have been having a hard time during this
Although this was a generous announcement, some people still had qualms with the offer. Russell Wangersky, a top journalist with The St. John’s Telegram had noted that, “The government may want to help Canadian media but it may end up hurting it… I just don’t think it’s the right solution. I think it carries the potential to do more harm to news agencies then credibility than it does to actually do anything more then protect existing systems in the short term.”
Unfortunately that may have actually been more of a prophecy then we thought. It seems that multiple news outlets are losing readership. Since COVID began 52 outlets have closed, 29 outlets have cancelled print additions, and the rates of unemployment are hard to track as there are multiple layoffs everyday. For example, Quebecor Inc. has recently laid off 1,150 of its employees temporarily.
Where the media will go from here is difficult to say. But in terms of Unifor, they are continuing to keep an eye on the Bell Media situation and are hoping to help any of its members in any way possible.