Photo: Adrian Wyld La Presse canadienne La grande patronne de CBC/Radio-Canada, Catherine Tait
The big boss of CBC/Radio-Canada, Catherine Tait, said Tuesday in front of federal elected officials that she is not able to say whether the “incentive remuneration” of her executives will be less than the approximately 15 million in bonuses paid last year despite the significant cuts announced.
“We need to keep our talented managers! This is not a charity, we need to compensate their work,” she argued before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
Conservative elected officials Rachael Thomas and Luc Berthold as well as New Democrat Peter Julian pressed the president and CEO with questions on this subject. Even Liberal MP Michael Coteau jumped into the fray, suggesting Ms. Tait recommend suspending these bonuses. She didn't commit to anything like that.
According to Catherine Tait, this issue is entirely in the hands of an independent board of directors, which must evaluate the performance of managers based on specific criteria. Bonuses are thus part of the “overall compensation” of managers, as provided for in their employment contract, which would prevent their sudden elimination.
In December, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, directly invited Catherine Tait “to answer the questions that people are currently asking,” during an oratorical contest in the House of Commons . The minister did not want to say whether she still had confidence in the woman her government kept at the head of the public broadcaster for a shortened mandate until January 2025.
Only 15 million
“We have a payroll that is $950 million, and performance-based compensation [was] only $15 million [last year],” Catherine Tait said in justification. She also argued that the public broadcaster deserved the $7 million it was entitled to under the media funding agreement with Google.
The next set of bonuses will need to be specified in approximately two months, at the end of the financial year. However, the senior vice-president of people and culture of Radio-Canada, Marco Dubé, indicated that the management of which he is a part “believes to be able to achieve them [the objectives set]”, suggesting that this level of “incentive pay” is not at risk.
Bloc MP Martin Champoux criticized the fact that the cutback plan provides for the abolition of an equal number of positions in the English and French branches of CBC/Radio-Canada. It is planned to lay off a total of 600 employees in 2024, and not fill 200 vacant positions.
Catherine Tait responded that the budgets of CBC (56% of the total) and Radio-Canada (44%) were similar and that programming cuts would hit the English network the most ($25 million ) than the French-speaking network (15 million).
“Radio-Canada keeps 100% of the revenues earned in [its] market. There is this perception that we share, [but] not at all. Commercial revenue remains with both services. »
Radio-Canada impossible without CBC
Furthermore, the CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada considers completely unrealistic the Conservative Party of Canada's proposal to shut down CBC, but to keep its French-speaking counterpart, Radio-Canada, alive. “If we cut CBC, there will be much bigger cuts at Radio-Canada too,” she said.
“It's impossible to imagine Radio-Canada without the presence of CBC, because we share our infrastructure, our buildings, the technology, the equipment, and even for everything that is administration, finance. All of this is shared. We're one company, except for programming [and] news. »
Catherine Tait presented the unenviable financial situation in which her organization finds itself as being the victim of a disaffection of the public and advertisers towards large Web platforms which causes a shortfall of approximately $125 million per year. “We operate with the same budget we had 30 years ago,” she said Tuesday.
A committee of experts must reflect on the future of CBC/Radio-Canada, and in particular its financing. The project was presented by Minister Pascale St-Onge as a way to protect the institution against a possible change of government in Ottawa. The broadcaster receives approximately $1.3 billion in public funding annually.