In the third round of layoffs in the past 13 months, Sun Media Corp. is eliminating 200 positions across the newspaper chain.
About a quarter of the jobs will be cut from editorial, in what the corporation called a “response to the impact of digital.”
As readers turn to digital media, newspapers have had difficulty attracting sufficient ad revenue to support their editorial operations. Digital ads are generally not as lucrative as print ads.
'The timing of this announcement, coming just three weeks before Christmas, couldn't have been worse' - Paul Morse, Unifor
Sun Media, a unit of Quebecor Media, announced the closure of 11 newspapers and the elimination of 360 jobs in July. In November of last year, it laid off 500 people.
"It is very tough to announce job cuts," Julie Tremblay, Sun Media CEO, said in a news release Wednesday.
"But as distressing as they are for the employees involved, these restructuring initiatives are necessary to maintain our leading position and ensure the corporation's sustainability.”
Vice-president Martin Tremblay said none of the 50 editorial job losses announced Wednesday will be in Quebec, although some of the 150 other affected positions are in the province. He said the timing of the departures will depend on local collective agreements.
The latest round of layoffs will leave Sun Media with 3,800 employees, including more than 1,000 journalists.
18 positions in Ontario
The union representing most Sun Media employees in Ontario said 18 positions are expected to be cut at several papers, including the Toronto Sun, London Free Press, Belleville Intelligencer, Chatham Daily News, Sarnia Observer, Stratford Beacon-Herald, Brantford Expositor, Owen Sound Sun-Times, St. Catharines Standard and the Niagara Falls Review.
"The timing of this announcement, coming just three weeks before Christmas, couldn't have been worse," said Paul Morse, president of Unifor Local 87-M. "Our sympathies go out to members who will have the threat of layoff hanging over their head this holiday season."
Sun Media continues to operate three free dailies and 36 paid circulation newspapers, as well as internet portal Canoe.ca.
Quebecor lost $167.8 million ($1.36 per basic share) in the third quarter of 2013, compared with net income attributable to shareholders of $17.1 million ($0.14 per basic share) in the same period of 2012.
Its news media division had undergone significant restructuring with the aim of “cost containment,” it said in its report to shareholders.
What about Sun TV?
In northern Ontario, a graphics designer in Sudbury and a journalist in North Bay will lose their jobs, said Martin O'Hanlon, director of the Communications Workers of America Canada.
"Sun Media, just every time you think they've hit bottom, they find a lower bottom and it's scary stuff for journalism," he said from Ottawa.
O'Hanlon said cutting jobs harms the quality of the newspapers and drives away readers.
While it has been hurt by declining advertising, he said the company is losing a lot of money each year on Sun News Network.
"If that $20 million wasn't being lost there they wouldn't need any of these cuts, in fact they would be able to invest in their products."