Has outgrown its taxpayer-funded mandate, and Canadians can no longer afford it

Kris SimsIt’s time to defund the CBC.

While many Canadians suffered from lockdowns, job losses and pay cuts, the CBC was handing out pay raises and bonuses.

Documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation show the CBC spent more than $51 million in bonuses and pay raises during the years 2020 and 2021.

In unrelated news, CBC went cap in hand to the government and came back with a 10-gallon hat full of cash.

The federal fiscal update delivered another “$42 million to help CBC recover from the pandemic,” according to the National Post.

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In Budget 2021, the Trudeau government gave the CBC an extra $21 million to “ensure its stability during the pandemic.”

This extra money is on top of the annual funding the corporation already gets from the government.

Taxpayers pay about $1.2 billion per year for the CBC, an amount that could instead pay the salaries of more than 13,000 nurses or cover the grocery bills for 100,000 families. What we pay for the CBC equals the annual income taxes for the population of Nanaimo.

The CBC’s original mandate in the 1930s was to air Canadian news and entertainment over the radio waves. Comedy and drama shows were broadcast to compete with the popular programming from powerhouses such as CBS Radio in New York.

It also told farmers the weather and aired Hockey Night in Canada.

Times have changed.

Farmers check the satellite images of stormfronts on apps like World Weather Inc. Parents put their kids in snow pants based on what their smartphone recommends. We watch our shows on commercial TV, YouTube and Netflix.

Hockey? That stuff’s like coffee; you can get it anywhere nowadays.

But today, the CBC is a big government monster that’s gobbling up tax dollars like it’s at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The corporation has about 7,500 employees, deals with 11 different labour unions, and lists more than 600 personalities on its website. It has a 12-person board of directors and eight people sitting on its senior executive team.

Catherine Tait is the president and CEO of the CBC. She is paid between $422,600 and $497,100 per year and is entitled to a performance bonus of up to 28 per cent.

The scuttlebutt in Canada’s newsrooms has long been that for every one journalist working in a regular news outlet, the CBC had about four managers. That reputation was made real when the CBC replaced Peter Mansbridge with four different anchors to desk the National.

How much does that cost? We aren’t allowed to know even though we pay the bills.

The independent news site, CANADALAND, dug up documents it says show Mansbridge was paid more than $800,000 per year.

Meanwhile, Canadians are tuning out of the CBC.

According to the journalism website Blacklocks Reporter, which is not funded by the government, the total audience for the CBC’s 6 p.m. local TV newscasts at 27 stations was 319,000 people. That means less than one per cent of Canadians watch the supper hour newscast.

When the CBC says it is essential because it provides Indigenous languages services, it’s worth double-checking the facts.

The CBC spent $18.3 million on its Indigenous language television, radio and online services from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2021. Over that same period, it spent more than $21 million on the salaries and benefits for its eight senior executives.

The CBC has 143 directors. Each of these directors receives an average salary of $130,906, costing the taxpayer $18.7 million per year.

This is not normal.

Private media companies don’t have 143 directors pulling in salaries north of $130,000.

The CBC has outgrown its taxpayer-funded mandate, and Canadians can’t afford it.

Kris Sims is the Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and a former member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

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