Postmedia laying off 15 positions at Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette

Postmedia cutting 15 jobs at Citizen and Gazette

TORONTO — A media union says it’s been told by Postmedia that the company plans to cut 15 positions at the Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette newspapers.

CWA Canada said Tuesday that the cuts, combined with recent buyouts, will reduce Postmedia’s workforce by about 20 per cent on top of a 50 per cent cut in previous years.

The company has slashed more than 3,000 jobs in the last six years.

CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said the $2.3 million in retention bonuses paid to company CEO Paul Godfrey and other executives could have saved as many as 40 jobs.

“Where do you think the money is better spent?” O’Hanlon said in a statement. “On bonuses for overpaid, under-performing executives or on hard-working employees who actually produce something and contribute to the economy?”

Postmedia has long struggled to stem copious amounts of red ink — partly the result of the widespread malaise facing newspapers across North America.

In its latest quarter, Toronto-based Postmedia Networks Corp. reported a profit of $17.8 million —largely attributable to debt restructuring — compared with a $4.2-million loss in the same period the previous year. Revenues fell almost 15 per cent.

CWA Canada, which represents about 6,000 media workers, also urged the federal government to take action to prevent Postmedia from “destroying” the country’s major daily newspapers.

The union wants the government to implement legislation or regulations to limit concentration of media ownership and prevent leveraged purchases of important national companies.

Newspapers Canada is also approaching governments for what it calls “public policy assistance.”

The group, which represents over 800 newspapers in Canada, is asking the Ontario government to reinstate access for newspapers to a digital media tax credit.

CEO John Hinds said the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit was used until 2015 by small and large newspapers to support the transition from print to digital. The tax credit is now largely used by digital game makers, he said.

“We think it’s really important to our members to have some support, to have a fighting chance in the digital world,” he said.

Hinds noted that the newspaper industry is facing significant challenges, particularly with the decline in print revenues.

“We think it’s important for everybody to recognize the importance of the industry and the ability to continue to provide local stories,” he said. “We’re not going cap in hand for sponsorship. What we’re looking for is some public policy assistance.”

A spokesperson for Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in an email that the ministry “does not speculate on tax policy,” adding that it does “review all taxes and tax credits as part of the annual budget process.”

 

The Canadian Press