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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bill C-60 and the CBC

The CBC building in Edmonton, in the Canadian province of Alberta, as seen in 2009. A new government bill may have wide affects on CBC.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user marceloilers
The Canadian government has put forward a bill that is said to influence negotiations with employees and unions at Crown Corporations.

The bill, known as Bill C-60, is to monitor the crown corporations of Canada, but there are three specifically that the government are looking after, according to a report from The Globe and Mail newspaper. Those corporations are the Canada Post postal service, the Via Rail train service and the public broadcaster CBC.

In an interview with the Globe, Treasury Board Secretariat Tony Clement said this bill was part of a larger issue. "[It] is part of a broader issue, which is aligning the public-service compensation and benefits to private-sector norms and expectations," Clement said, noting that CBC, Canada Post and Via Rail were examples of the Crown Corporations that the bill was targeting. "These are all examples of Crown corporations [that], when their financial viability goes too far south, always then seem to be at the doorstep of the government of the day," Clement said.

Clement, for the part of CBC, said the broadcaster was "always struggling to put out good content at a time of sometimes declining ad revenues and other revenues."

Canada Post and Via Rail did not respond to telephone messages seeking comment.

In a statement on its web site, which was referred to after a media request, CBC said the employees of the corporation were not public servants under the country's Broadcasting Act, and salaries were determined by the Board of Directors. "In recent years, the Corporation has developed an efficient and cooperative bargaining process with its unions, while ensuring that compensation remains aligned with the broadcast industry in which we operate," the statement said. "Like some Crown Corporations, we also need the flexibility to operate quickly in a fast changing industry, while being able to attract the talent necessary in to order to operate at our best."

CBC added that they would be writing to federal ministers to convey concerns and request a meeting to discuss the repercussions.

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