OTTAWA — CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, welcomes the measures in today’s federal budget to help the news industry, but worries a possible loophole could let a company like Postmedia funnel millions to its vulture fund debt-holders and to executives.
The budget includes $595 million in tax credits and other incentives over five years, and allows non-profit media organizations to effectively be eligible for charitable status.
CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon applauded the funding, saying it should go a long way to helping local news outlets survive and even thrive. But he added that the union can’t fully endorse the package until further details are provided.
“We need to know there will be rules to ensure that a company like Postmedia can’t simply take millions of dollars in labour tax credits and pass that on to the debt-holders who control it or to pay huge executive salaries or bonuses,” O’Hanlon said.
“The money must go toward improving journalism.”
In a shocking and shameless move, Postmedia boosted CEO Paul Godfrey’s compensation package to a whopping $5 million last year, while laying off workers and pleading for a government bailout. The company has also been paying tens of millions of dollars a year to the two vulture funds that control it.
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. In November 2017, 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.