Saskatoon paper slow to pay, freelance writer says

Financial woes at CanWest Global Communications appear to be hitting home for freelance writers at Saskatoon's daily newspaper.

Financial woes at CanWest Global Communications are causing delays for freelance writers at Saskatoon's daily newspaper.

The newspaper division of the company, which owns the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, the Regina Leader-Post and other dailies across Canada, went into court-approved creditor protection last month.

The papers are up for sale and for regular employees, it's been business as usual. However, some freelancers were surprised last month to find they weren't getting their paycheques on time.

Among them was Scott Connell, who's covered everything from high school basketball to the World Junior hockey tournament.

Connell was supposed to get a paycheque on Jan. 4, but he wasn't paid for the next three weeks.

"It's tough to be putting in all you've got in your job and then not getting paid, " Connell said, adding that even with the delays, editors expected him to keep showing up for work.

"Eventually it got to the point where I told them, 'Look guys I can't continue to work for free.'"

Earlier this month, Connell was finally paid the $3,200 he was owed, but he says he hasn't been back since.

Canwest spokesman John Douglas, vice-president of public affairs, confirmed the problem paying freelancers was connected to the company's creditor protection situation.

"There's no doubt that when the company filed for creditor protection, the initial court order stayed or froze all amounts that were owing to suppliers of goods and services," he said.

"In the case of ... freelance writers, the court order required us to go through a fairly rigorous process to demonstrate to a court-appointed monitor that these amounts should be paid. We acknowledge that this process has delayed the payment to freelancers and we regret that."

Connell, meanwhile, says he's now looking for work.