OTTAWA — CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, welcomes the federal government’s announcement of financial help for the news industry, but cautions that the devil will be in the details.
Today’s announcement in the fall economic statement promises $595 million in tax credits and other incentives over five years, including a refundable tax credit for “labour costs associated with producing original news content.” It will also allow non-profit media organizations to apply for charitable status.
Full details won’t be available until the next budget after the government consults with an “independent” panel from the journalism community.
“We’re certainly pleased to see this badly needed help coming, especially the eligibility for charitable status,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said.
“But we will need to see the details before we can fully endorse the package. We don’t want to see the money being used by companies like Postmedia to pay off their hedge fund masters or to further line the pockets of top executives, and we have told the government that.”
In a shocking and shameless move, Postmedia, which has cut over 3,000 jobs in the last decade, had the gall to give CEO Paul Godfrey and other top executives a raise of 30 per cent last year – all the while paying tens of millions of dollars a year to its vulture fund debt-holders.
Funding for local civic journalism and charitable status for non-profit news organizations were two of CWA Canada’s key recommendations to the government.
The union also once again urges the government to strengthen the Competition Act and regulations to prevent concentration of ownership.
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.”
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