CBC Calgary will lose nearly one-quarter of its staff as the corporation announced a major restructuring of its local English news service across Canada.
Twenty positions are expected to be lost at CBC Calgary. The full impact of the cuts will be offset by current vacancies and new investment in the digital service. Still, the layoff notices are expected to be handed out in Calgary by the end of April.
Employees were told about the cuts Thursday in a video town hall meeting.
Johnny Michel, the CBC's senior managing director in the west region, explained the corporation is under great financial duress that required a rethink of the news model.
"The unfortunate part is that the west, specifically in Alberta and B.C., we had a lot more," said Michel in an interview. "The unfortunate part is that we stand to lose more."
CBC British Columbia will lose 26 jobs. CBC Edmonton will be trimmed by 18 jobs. In all, the two provinces will absorb 64 job losses — by far the largest of any region. The total cut announced Thursday was 140 positions across the country or $15 million.
Specific jobs to be lost won't be known until April. Joint CBC-Canadian Media Guild committees will be struck in each location to work through the workforce adjustment.
Asked why CBC Calgary was taking such a big cut as compared to locations such as CBC St. John's, Michel said the St. John's has a record of success — particularly in TV news — and that the supper-hour newscast there created a lot of revenue for the corporation.
"We traditionally have not done very well in Alberta on the television side. We do extremely well on radio and we do extremely well on digital," said Michel. "We are still committed to breaking news, we are still committed to enterprise journalism, investigative journalism ... and protect those that do well."
In Calgary, the supper-hour newscast will shrink to 30 minutes as previously announced. Local radio programs will remain largely intact. Seven new positions will be created in the local digital service. The CBC will also create a new bureau in Fort McMurray to enhance coverage of the area.
The cuts revealed Thursday are the next phase of the CBC’s 2020 strategy, announced last June.