CBC Considering ‘All Possible Measures’ in Wake of Concerns Over Cuts, Exec Bonuses

CBC Considering ‘All Possible Measures’ in Wake of Concerns Over Cuts, Exec Bonuses
Catherine Tait, President and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) waits to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa, on Nov. 2, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Spencer Colby)
The Canadian Press
12/8/2023
Updated:
12/8/2023
0:00

Top CBC executives said on Dec. 7 they are considering options to manage the broadcaster’s financial pressures, including taking a look at “senior executive compensation,” following plans to slash 10 percent of the public broadcaster’s workforce.

CBC/Radio-Canada head Catherine Tait and seven vice-presidents released a brief statement that afternoon, after MPs of different political stripes voiced concern about the plan to cut 600 jobs, and not fill 200 vacancies over the next year.

“We are aware of the concerns that have been expressed following the announcement of cuts at CBC/Radio-Canada, as well as questions about remuneration, particularly senior executive compensation tied to performance,” the statement read.

“To be clear, all possible measures are being considered in the context of managing our financial pressures in the months ahead, including senior executive compensation.”

Ms. Tait announced job cuts earlier in the week, saying the move was necessary to make up for a $125-million shortfall.

As a Crown corporation, CBC operates independently of Parliament. It receives roughly $1 billion in federal funding each year.

Political leaders have expressed concern about the impact the job cuts will have on its programming, especially for French-language audiences both in Quebec and outside the province.

Ms. Tait drew further criticism after saying on CBC’s The National that it was “too early” to say whether executives would receive bonuses this year.

“It’s too early to say where we are for this year,” Ms. Tait replied to a question from host Adrienne Arsenault. “We'll be looking at that, like we do all our line items in the coming months.”

Following her remarks, CBC spokesman Leon Mar clarified that the broadcaster would not be reconsidering the bonuses it would have paid under existing contracts.

Documents released under access-to-information requests show that between 2015 and last year, more than $99 million was paid out in bonuses to employees at the public broadcaster, including $16 million paid to more than 1,000 employees in 2022.

According to CBC, such payments are part of what it calls a “short-term incentive plan” meant to encourage employees to hit or surpass business targets.

In their statement on Dec. 8, the senior executives said they are “committed to minimizing the effect of cuts on our programs and services to Canadians and on our workforce.”

On Dec. 7, MPs on the parliamentary heritage committee voted to have Ms. Tait testify about the planned cuts and her position that the broadcaster had not ruled out paying bonuses.

Liberal, Conservative, and New Democrat MPs on the committee universally expressed that they did not feel it would be appropriate for CBC executives to receive bonuses while it planned to cut its workforce.

With the House of Commons preparing to pause for the holidays, Ms. Tait’s appearance is expected to happen in 2024.