CWA Canada has issued an urgent appeal to the federal government to provide immediate financial aid to the news industry, which is being devastated by the COVID-19 crisis.
The media union’s president, Martin O’Hanlon, in a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, asked that they “make news companies eligible for the same measures announced today for small- and medium-sized businesses, or that you allow them to immediately access the labour tax credits under the $595-million journalism support fund. We emphasize that this eligibility should include The Canadian Press, given its crucial role providing news to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”
“It is vital that this money begin to flow in a matter of days, not weeks or months,” O’Hanlon wrote. “It is not hyperbole to state that the survival of some companies hangs in the balance. Ad revenue has plummeted more than two thirds and newspaper publishers in Quebec and Atlantic Canada have laid off hundreds of workers and cut wages and hours for others. More publishers across the country will undoubtedly follow suit very soon without help.”
Noting that CWA Canada represents 6,000 workers at media outlets and newspapers across the country, including those owned by Postmedia, SaltWire, Brunswick News, Black Press, and Glacier Media, O’Hanlon said at a “time of crisis like this, it is vital that we have more news coverage, not less.”
He pointed out that the Heritage department news release of the day before described the media as “an indispensable communications link between different levels of government and the public.”
O’Hanlon said his appeal for financial aid for the industry came with one caveat:
“We must ensure that all federal money goes toward protecting jobs and journalism. Companies should agree not to lay off staff or outsource jobs abroad, and a strict limit should be placed on compensation to corporate executives and payments to owners or lenders.”