March 27, 2020
The Hon. Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Canadian Heritage
The Hon. Bill Morneau
Minister of Finance
I’m writing as president of CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, to request immediate aid for the news industry which is being devastated by the COVID-19 crisis.
We ask that you 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. 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.
As a union that represents 6,000 workers at newspapers and other media companies across the country, we care deeply about the welfare of our members, our communities, and about protecting journalism.
At a time of crisis like this, it is vital that we have more news coverage, not less. And, as noted in a press release from your department on Wednesday, the media is “an indispensable communications link between different levels of government and the public.”
I would add 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.
President, CWA Canada
The Media Union
The Canadian Media Guild is Local 30213 of the Communications Workers of America | Canada, the country’s only all-media union.
We believe a quality media system that serves all Canadians is built on healthy organizations that treat workers fairly.