OTTAWA – New Democrats are decrying the severe impact of the Harper government’s reckless cuts to our public broadcaster following CBC/Radio-Canada President Hubert Lacroix’s announcement of extensive layoffs, reduced production of new Canadian programming and significant delays in the deployment of new local services.
“Today Canadians can see the true cost of this government’s disdain for CBC/Radio-Canada and their commitment to continuing to weaken our public broadcaster,” said Benskin. “These cuts reflect the misguided Conservative view that they can slash the budget of important agencies like the CBC without affecting services. Today we see that is false.”
Over 650 jobs at CBC/Radio-Canada will be eliminated over three years, with as many as 475 lost this year alone. Specialty channel Bold will be sold off and a planned online children’s channel will be cancelled. Radio Canada International will reduce its operations; plans for a state-of-the-art Atlantic region production studio in Halifax abandoned; and local facilities in Calgary, Rimouski, Sydney, Corner Brook and St. John will be sold off.
“Through this process the CBC has been clear about one thing,” said Benskin, “you cannot just decimate an organization’s budget and expect it to continue to provide the same depth or quality of service.”
Heritage Minister James Moore stated in a recent interview that he had elected to slash CBC/Radio-Canada’s budget in excess of 10 percent following assurances the move would not affect services, a claim proven wrong today with these drastic service cuts at Canada’s public broadcaster.
“It’s more crucial than ever that our government honours and builds upon this pillar of Canadian culture,” Benskin concluded, “rather than the Conservative approach of cynically eroding it in pursuit of their narrow ideology.”