CBC head Catherine Tait won’t rule out accepting a bonus amid widespread cuts

CBC head Catherine Tait won't rule out accepting a bonus amid widespread cuts
Catherine Tait, President and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) waits to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa, on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.

The president of CBC and Radio-Canada signalled Tuesday that she will recommend bonuses are rolled out to executives this year, despite plans to cut 10 per cent of the national broadcaster’s workforce.

Catherine Tait said it’s ultimately up to the board of directors to determine who gets bonuses, which are doled out at the end of March.

She didn’t say whether she would be a recipient of such bonuses.

The broadcaster announced in December that it was cutting 600 jobs and allowing 200 more vacancies to go unfilled, saying it aimed to head off a projected $125-million shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

The additional payments to some staff are merit-based and only provided to those employees who meet certain goals, Tait said.

More than 1,100 employees who are managers, executives or are compensated in certain pay bands are currently part of the incentive pay program, she said.

Tait hasn’t said whether she would consider opting out of the program herself, in light of the situation facing employees.

“Canadians are just looking for a signal that (you’re) willing to work with the tone of the nation,” said Liberal MP Michael Coteau.

For the broadcaster announce job cuts in December after paying out $15 million in bonuses last March is “hard to stomach,” Coteau said.

CBC documents released under access-to-information law show more than $99 million in bonuses was awarded to employees between 2015 and 2022.

Coteau noted that Tait could direct the board to reconsider its bonus structure given the new financial reality.

“I’ll consider all scenarios,” Tait said. “However, we have a program in place. These are not frivolous awards given at Christmas time.”

Pressed by Conservative heritage critic Rachael Thomas to specify whether she would recommend bonuses to the board, she said she would if employees “achieve their targets” for the current fiscal year, when no deficit was posted.

The committee agreed in a report to the House of Commons before Tait’s appearance that it would be inappropriate to grant executive bonuses in light of the looming cuts.

But members of Parliament have no sway over how the independent broadcaster spends its money — something Tait pointed out in her opening remarks.

READ PREVIOUS: CBC says it is cutting 600 jobs, some programming as it slashes budget

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2024. 

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