OTTAWA – CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, applauds the federal government’s announcement today that it will spend $50 million over five years to support local journalism in under-serviced communities.
The union also welcomes the commitment in the federal budget to look at allowing news organizations to receive charitable status for not-for-profit journalism.
Funding for local civic journalism and the option for non-profit news organizations were two of CWA Canada’s key recommendations to the government.
“We’re very pleased that the government has taken this step,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said.
“It won’t solve the woes plaguing the news industry, but it’s a good start. We will continue to push for action on foreign digital advertising and concentration of news media ownership.”
“Over 80 per cent of Canadian digital advertising dollars go to foreign-owned companies like Google and Facebook that have an unfair tax advantage and that simply must change,” O’Hanlon said. “Otherwise Canadian media companies will continue to struggle and fight amongst themselves over the digital ad crumbs.”
Local news coverage has been decimated across the country in recent years as Postmedia and other companies have slashed jobs and closed publications. Some communities, such as Guelph, Ont., and Moose Jaw, Sask., have been left with no daily newspaper.
Most recently, Postmedia and Torstar announced a swap of 41 newspapers, most of which were shut down to eliminate competition, putting almost 300 people out of work.
“The loss of local journalists is a serious threat to our democracy,” O’Hanlon said. “It means fewer journalists reporting on the stories that matter to communities — and leaves almost no one to hold local politicians and powerful interests to account in many places.”
In a letter last year to Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, CWA Canada supported relief for the news media industry, but cautioned that it must go toward creating front-line journalism jobs and increasing quality civic journalism rather than to boosting corporate profits, bonuses for bosses, or vulture fund lenders.
CWA Canada represents about 6,000 media workers at the CBC, The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, VICE Canada, and newspapers and other media companies coast to coast.
For more information, contact:
President, CWA Canada