TORONTO - CBC is cutting 244 jobs from local news services across the country, shrinking its French and English offerings as it grapples with ongoing budget woes.
The cuts include 144 positions from English-language services and 100 job cuts on the French side, which include 20 vacant positions and retirements.
Jennifer McGuire, Editor-in-Chief of CBC News, announced the English layoffs in a note to staff, which stressed that no stations would close and all local radio programming is being maintained.
But there will be significant job losses, including 37 positions in Alberta, 30 in Ontario and 25 in British Columbia.
McGuire admits that “local services will be smaller overall,” but says the relative size of each region remains the same.
“It’s a significant change in our delivery of local news and information — perhaps the largest transformation ever undertaken by CBC in local,” McGuire says in Thursday’s letter.
The cuts are part of a five-year strategy announced last June by CEO Hubert Lacroix in a bid to increase digital offerings by 2020.
The strategy included plans to cut up to 1,500 jobs, and the CBC announced it would shorten all local supper-hour newscasts to 30 or 60 minutes and broadcast Radio One morning shows on TV beginning in the fall.
McGuire says the cuts should shave $15 million from operating costs and will still leave more than 1,100 people in 29 stations across the country, plus CBC’s service in the North.
But union leader Marc-Philippe Laurin questioned a plan that he feared would cripple the public broadcaster’s ability to serve smaller communities.
“According to their 2020 strategic plan, their intention is to move heavily into the digital world but they’re effectively dismantling other areas of the company,” said Laurin, president of the Canadian Media Guild’s CBC branch.
© The Canadian Press, 2015