CBC budget cut by $115M over 3 years

Federal government cuts will mean the CBC loses $115 million in funding over three years, according to the budget released Thursday.
A sign outside the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation building in downtown Toronto (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Federal government cuts will mean the CBC loses $115 million in funding over three years, according to the budget released Thursday.

The public broadcaster will see 10 per cent taken from its current $1.1-billion budget as part of a $5.2-billion cut to federal spending over three years. The budget will be trimmed $27.8 million for 2012-13, another $41.8 million in 2013-14 and a further $45.4 million in 2014-15 for a total of $115 million. That means the budget is set to be $115 million less from then on.

A $60-million programming fund that was renewed annually will now be included in the CBC's total budget and was included in the calculation of the 10 per cent cut.

As part of the government's plan to cut spending, all federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations had to submit budgets showing five per cent and 10 per cent cuts.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered the budget in the House of Commons Thursday afternoon, but specific details about the cuts aren't yet available.

The CBC broadcasts in English and French, as well as in eight aboriginal languages, with a mandate to provide distinctly Canadian programming.

A statement by the broadcaster said it will implement the reduction "in a way that doesn't overly compromise" its strategy for increasing local coverage.

"The measures that CBC/Radio-Canada intends to take over the next three years will be set out in greater detail for our employees and the Canadians we serve as soon as possible," the statement said.

Wolves are at the door, MP says

Liberal heritage critic Scott Simms says he's concerned about the impact of the cuts on the CBC's ability to create programming and to reach far-flung rural areas that the private sector is not willing to serve. The Conservative government is putting pressure on the CBC to satisfy a small number of backbenchers who are keen to shut it down, he added.

"The wolves are at the door and circling when it comes to the CBC," Simms said.

"I'm an MP in a rural riding. If those places don't have the CBC, they won't have anything," he said.

The head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says he would have liked to have seen deeper cuts across government.

"People do have to remember that we're talking about borrowed money here. The government is still running a substantial deficit," Gregory Thomas said.

Thomas said the cuts to the corporation in the mid-'90s were deeper, so he doesn't believe the current round will have as severe an effect.

"In the context of what [the government] did, CBC probably took as deep a cut as any agency to its budget," he said.