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CBC staff earning six-figures doubles under Trudeau

Author: Ryan Thorpe 2023/02/22

As newsrooms across Canada are cut to the bone and publishers navigate choppy financial waters and a changing media landscape, the good times and fat paycheques continue to roll at the taxpayer-funded CBC. 

The number of CBC staffers taking home six-figure salaries has increased every year since 2015. 

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation obtained records detailing the steady drumbeat of pay raises at the public broadcaster through an access-to-information request.

During the 2015-16 fiscal year, 438 “full-time equivalent” CBC employees took home six-figure salaries, for a total cost to taxpayers of about $59.5 million. 

Since then, those numbers have more than doubled. 

By the 2021-22 fiscal year, 949 “full-time equivalent” CBC employees took home six-figure salaries, for a total cost to taxpayers of about $119.5 million. 

“Taxpayers don’t need all these CBC employees making six-figures,” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the CTF. “What value are taxpayers getting from all these extra CBC staffers with big salaries?”

The internal records obtained by the CTF show that growth at the public broadcaster didn’t stop during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The number of CBC employees earning an annual salary of more than $100,000 rose by 14 and 13 per cent in 2020-21 and 2021-22, respectively. 

As a result, there are now 220 more CBC employees receiving a six-figure salary than before the pandemic.

Fiscal year

# of staff earning $100K+

Total $ paid to staff earning $100K+

2015-16

438

$59.5M

2016-17

467

$63.5M

2017-18

511

$68.6M

2018-19

599

$78.0M

2019-20

729

$93.4M

2020-21

838

$106.2M

2021-22

949

$119.5M

Most provincial governments publish annual “sunshine lists” to provide transparency on employee compensation. The federal government does not. 

In August 2022, the CTF called on the government to implement a sunshine list after documents revealed that 114,453 federal employees received an annual salary of more than $100,000 in 2021. 

Those records show the number of federal employees earning a six-figure salary grew by 45,426 during the pandemic alone. 

In November 2022, the CTF reported the CBC paid out more than $156 million in bonuses and pay raises since 2015 – an average annual bonus and pay raise of $14,200 and $1,800, respectively. 

The CBC issued $51 million in bonuses and pay raises during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Records show only one employee received a pay cut during that time.

“The CBC shouldn’t have doled out bonuses while taxpayers lost jobs and businesses during the pandemic,” said Terrazzano. “If the CBC has enough money lying around to hand out millions in bonuses and raises during a pandemic, then taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fork over more money.”

The cost of the CBC to taxpayers has spiked since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was first elected in 2015. Since then, the CBC’s annual funding from taxpayers has increased by $203 million, per its annual reports. 

In 2021, the CBC cost taxpayers $1.2 billion – including $21 million in “immediate operational support” to ensure its “stability during the pandemic.”

The federal government’s recent fiscal update also allocated an additional “$42 million to help CBC/Radio-Canada recover from the pandemic,” according to the National Post

Meanwhile, blow after blow continues to batter and bruise private media in Canada, which is forced to compete with the taxpayer-funded CBC both for viewers and advertising dollars. 

Last month, Postmedia Network Corporation, the largest newspaper chain in the country, announced a deep round of cuts to its editorial staff, coming in at 11 per cent. Those cuts will impact nearly every Postmedia publication, including the National Post, the Vancouver Sun and the Calgary Herald.

In 2022, Bell Media slashed more than 200 journalism and support jobs in radio and TV across Canada, a move that shuttered three radio stations in Hamilton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

“Canadians should be allowed to voluntarily choose which news outlet to support, and other media organizations shouldn’t be forced to compete with the taxpayer-funded CBC,” said Terrazzano. “It’s time to defund the CBC.”

In February 2020, the non-partisan Forum for Research and Policy in Communications released a research paper based on an analysis of every available annual report from CBC from 1937 to 2019. 

The FRPC identified significant “inconsistencies in presentation” of data within the annual reports that made tracking the funding and performance of the CBC unnecessarily difficult.

The reports provide “little objective information” about the CBC’s fulfilment of its mandate and “so little consistent historical financial information” that Parliament’s support for its operations “cannot be easily assessed.”

“CBC today provides little, if any, detailed information about the availability of its services in Canada and their use by the public, or about the programming that it produces each year,” according to the FRPC. 

One thing that is clear, however, is the CBC’s share of the English-language primetime TV viewing audience in Canada has been dropping for years. 

From 2009-10 to 2021-22, the CBC’s share of the primetime TV viewing audience fell from 9.3 per cent to five per cent – an overall decline of 46 per cent.

Based on calculations from the FRPC report, the CBC has cost Canadian taxpayers roughly $80 billion (in 2021 dollars, adjusted for inflation) since 1937.

The CBC’s 2021 budget alone – $1.2 billion – is enough to pay the salaries of 7,600 new nurses for Canadian hospitals, with enough money left over to cover the annual grocery bills of more than 43,000 families.


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