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CRTC ruling a blow to local TV: Unifor

TORONTO, May 15 – Today’s ruling from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission does nothing to stop further cuts to local television news across Canada, Unifor says.

“With the CRTC failing to use the tools at its disposal to help ensure Canadians continue to have reliable news and information about their communities, the ball is now in the federal government’s court to take action,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

“Local TV in this country is in crisis. Unifor had hoped that the CRTC would take that seriously with today’s ruling. We are now looking to the government to act swiftly.”

Dias was critical of the CRTC allowing major broadcasters the opportunity to reduce local news programming far below current levels; and imposing not a single requirement for staffing of local newsrooms and bureaus.

“The time for fine speeches from [CRTC Chair] Jean-Pierre Blais about big media’s corporate responsibility is over. A cabinet directive is needed to do for local TV what the CRTC lacks the will to do,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law.

With more than 12,000 journalists and media workers in television, newspapers, magazines, news websites and film production, Unifor is Canada’s primary media union.

Law said Unifor is nonetheless pleased by the CRTC decision to revive the popular daily newscasts at the Rogers OMNI stations in Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi and Italian.

“OMNI plays a vital role in Canada to help our diverse communities feel more at home here. Its continued viability is essential,” Law said.

Law said Unifor applauds the opportunity in the CRTC decision for other TV companies to come forward with their own proposals for even more ethnic programming.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.


For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at or (cell) 647-385-4054.

New Facebook Group

We now have a closed Facebook group for union employees at 180 W 2nd!!!

That means when anyone posts in this group – it stays in the group. Only Group members can post, or see the posts.

Another way we can keep informed and in contact with each other.

Another way for the executive to let you know what’s going on.

Unifor Local 830m Facebook Group:  Search Unifor Local 830 m group

You need a Facebook account to join. If you have an account and would like to get updates and take part in discussions with the local membership, please contact one of the executives to set you up.

Vivian Yu         Tas Razvi        Tanya Luciani

Ottawa Lobby Efforts: Media Action Plan


Feb 1-3 Unifor National is sending 20 media members to Ottawa to Lobby federal ministers to support the media industry


Please sign this online petition – and ask your friends to sign – to support this initiative



Facebook (Bilingual):
Twitter (English):

Twitter (French):

Regulatory Advocacy 2016/2017

 The last 12 months have seen local news issues given a lot of attention. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission’s Let’s Talk TV public consultation into Local and Community Programming.  This resulted in a new Television Policy prior to the Group Licensing Hearings for Canada’s major broadcasters this past November.

The Minister of Heritage, Mélanie Joly, is conducting a public consultation into Canadian Content in a Digital World.  This wide ranging consultation also confirms the importance of Local News to Canadians.

Unifor Local 830M has been involved in these important consultations and continues to advocate for improved funding and regulatory support for Local News Programming.

This is a detail account of what we have said on the record over the past year:

January 2016: CRTC denies Unifor complaint into OMNI cuts, 2016-8

Unifor National responds to CRTC Decision 2016-8

January 2016: Local 830M president, Steve Hawkins, gives testimony during the CRTC’s review of local news and community programming. 2015-421

Unifor 830M’s final submission to Let’s Talk Local TV

June 2016: CRTC Broadcast Decision 2016-224 sets out the frame work for Local News Programming for the up coming Group Licensing and call for interventions 2016-225.

Unifor Nation responds to CRTC’s new broadcasting policy

Rogers makes a group licensing application 2016-0009-9 for CITY & OMNI, releasing very few details for their five year plans

Roger applies for a mandatory carriage license (known as a 9-1-H application) for a Regional OMNI channel, to coincide with their group licensing application, 2016-0377-0

Unifor 830M Journalism Advocacy Letter

Unifor National gives conditional support for Rogers 9-1-H application

Unifor Local 830M supports the National Unifor position, supporting 9-1-H, however does not support Rogers group licensing application for lack of specific details. This submission details the lack of Local Programming Roger’s currently provides in Vancouver.  This is most evident when you review 830M’s Membership List from March 2015, which demonstrates the devastating 50% cuts to local programming staffing.

August 25th, Rogers responds to written interventions

December 2016: Unifor Local 830M gives testimony during CRTC Group Licensing hearing 2016-225; 2016-0009-9 & 2016-0377-0

Unifor Nation media release following appearance at Group Licensing hearing

Unifor 830 Final submission to Group Licensing hearing; 2016-225; 2016-0009-9 & 2016-0377-0

Unifor’s Media Actiion Plan publishes a letter in several major Canadian newspapers

Unifor 830M submission to Canadian Heritage Minister Joly’s public consultation into Canadian Content in a Digital World

Rogers makes final submission to 2016-225; 2016-0009-9 & 2016-0377-0

Unifor 830M responds to Rogers final comments

Unifor 830M Response to Roger’s Final Reply 2016-225

The following letter was declined by the CRTC and is not part of the public record for BNOC 2016-225.  Roger’s statements are misleading and do not represent the facts.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Danielle May-Cuconat

Secretary General


Ottawa, ON K1A 0N2

Dear Ms May-Cuconato;

I have reviewed Rogers final reply to BNOC 2016-225 and I am writing to address the fact that Rogers’ comments in paragraph 47  of its reply to interveners mischaracterize the evidence that I have presented during this important license application process, and to correct the errors it has made.

Rogers January 6th final submission states:

Correcting an Inaccurate Statement of an Intervener

47.One final issue that we feel compelled to address is the inaccurate statements made at the hearing by Steve Hawkins who appeared on behalf of Unifor Local 830. At the hearing, Mr. Hawkins said that our City station in Vancouver operates with “one journalist”, which is misleading.41 The reality is that our news team for City Vancouver consists of the equivalent of 28 full-time staff, which includes on-air hosts, news reporters, writers/researchers, news shooters/editors and studio crew.

The CITY newsroom employees are detailed in our evidence which also gives revealing details of the positions cut on May 2015 with an attached membership list that has strike-outs for the positions that were cut.

830M’s August Intervention, 2016-0009-9, stated:

24. In May of 2015, following a major staff restructuring, Rogers has only 6 full time news camera operators/editors, and 1 full time news editor. There are 6 members working in editorial news operations at CITY and 9 employees working on OMNI’s three current affairs programs.  There are 5 members working in station operations and another 11 members working in either promotions, traffic or sales for CITY and OMNI. (Membership List Mar2015)

25. Where does this leave CITY programming in 2016?  How does the local Canadian programming that airs on CITY Vancouver differ from other Vancouver broadcasters? How does it differ from what Rogers offers its Ontario viewers?

How does this compare to other Vancouver Broadcasters?

26. Shaw’s local news programming employs 13 full time anchors; 13 full time and 12 part-time/temporary reporters; 2 full time videographers; 2 full time assignment editors, 1 full camera assignment/ digital media producer; 24 full time & 2 part-time producers; 2 full time & 1 part-time associate producers; 4 full time  4 part-time/temporary writers; 6 full time online journalists; 1 online video producer; 17 full time & 8 part-time/temporary news camera operators; 14 full time & 12 part-time/temporary news editors; 6 full time LiveEye operators; 7 full time & 5 part-time/temporary feed co-ordinators. That’s a total of 112 full time, 44 part-time/temporary local news employees.

27. CTV’s local programming in Vancouver employs 12 full time & 7 part-time/freelance reporters; 19 full time & 5 part-time news camera operators; 2 Live Truck operators, 10 full time & 6 part-time news editors; 15 full time & 4 part-time writers and producers; and 4 full time employees involved in assignment. That’s a total of 62 full time, 22 part-time local news employees.

How does this compare to CITY in Toronto? 

28. Rogers CITY TV operations in Toronto have far more employees involved in local news programming.  There are over 124 full time and 41 part-time/casual operations employees; 37 full time and 6 casual in-house editorial employees; 24 full time and 14 part-time/casual news field operations; and 32 casual field news editorial employees.

Budget vs Quality 

29. I can tell the Commission there is a substantive difference between the programming provided by Rogers in Vancouver than in Toronto.  How could there not be when you objectively look at the number of hours of programming and the number of people involved in that programming, especially the lack of field journalists in Vancouver?

30. Rogers operations in Vancouver does not have a single person that works exclusively as a news reporter.  The morning news reporter spends the first few hours of their shift writing sports for Breakfast Television, then if the work flow allows it, they will go on location to report live segments into the news show, often only appearing live for a few hours of the show.  Once the show is off the air, that reporter day answers phones for Sportsnet, OMNI or CITY; or some other newsroom duty

Rogers’ misrepresentation of material facts in its reply to interveners

Rogers now states that the facts in my written intervention are incorrect, based on the evidence that it has now chosen to provide:  “our news team for City Vancouver consists of the equivalent of 28 full-time staff, which includes on-air hosts, news reporters, writers/researchers, news shooters/editors and studio crew”.

This statement misrepresents the facts I presented, by leaving the misleading impression that these were incorrect, and ignores my specific comments at paragraph 30, addressing the actual duties of their one field reporter.

Without seeking to re-explain the evidence in my written submission, or to introduce more evidence, permit me to note that Rogers has simply muddied the water even further:  it does not state whether these positions are devoted solely to City Vancouver, or to OMNI Vancouver or to both stations, or – and most importantly – the percentage of time that each position provides journalistic services.

Respectfully, Rogers has mischaracterized my evidence as inaccurate, without providing the evidence needed by the CRTC to determine the accuracy of Rogers’ own evidence.

Rogers’ reply is out of process

I have participated in a number of CRTC proceedings, and am aware that the CRTC does not normally permit interveners to respond to applicants’ response to interveners’ final replies.

In this case, however, it seems to me that Rogers is not responding to my final reply, but has instead decided to respond to the evidence presented in my written intervention.

My understanding of the CRTC’s procedural rules, however, is that Rogers should have presented this new information in its final reply either in its initial reply to interventions, in its opening remarks, during questioning from the CRTC, or in its final remarks at the hearing.

Rogers had many chances to prove that it was right, and that the people like me who work every day at the station are not. Perhaps its unusual decision to respond to me now – in its very last reply in this proceeding – shows that it now recognizes its error in failing to prove the level of journalistic resources it makes available to each station, in a proceeding focussed on its past performance and future commitments.

Regardless, allowing Rogers’ statements to stand unchallenged would be, quite simply, unfair.

I realize Rogers is supposed to have the last word in these matters, however when they use this opportunity to make statements like in paragraph 47, I feel the Commission should investigate these statements in context to all the evidence that has been presented.  At the very least, the CRTC should permit this response to Rogers’ mischaracterization of my evidence to be placed on the record of this proceeding, and I respectfully request that this be done.

Should you require any clarification of my written intervention’s factual evidence, please let me know.

I have provided a copy of this letter to Rogers.


Stephen Hawkins

Local President, Unifor 830M

cc, Susan Wheeler, VP Regulatory, Rogers Media Inc

Transcript from 830M appearance: CRTC Hearing 2016-225



6061 MR. HAWKINS: Thank you. I’d like to thank the Commission for allowing me the opportunity to speak at this important group licensing hearing.

6062 My name is Steve Hawkins and I have worked for the past 32 years as a local news camera operator, since 1992 at CKVU in Vancouver. It’s been a great ride, however, a little bumpy over this past decade.

6063 I was elected to the position of local union president back in 2006. I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for local news at various CRTC hearings and consultations over the years.

6064 In my intervention that I’m speaking to today, I gave evidence of how Rogers’ failure to invest in local programming both at CITY and at OMNI have left Vancouverites underserved.

6065 However, it’s with cautious optimism that I appear in front of you today.

6066 I’m encouraged by recent statements made by Chairman Blais recognizing the importance of local programming to Canadians, and that our largest broadcasters, like Rogers, must live up to their responsibilities under the Broadcast Act to provide Canadians with high-quality, well-funded local news, the type of local news programming that makes our democracy so much stronger.

6067 It’s hard to know specifically how to react to Rogers’ applications because their Vancouver operations are so intertwined between both CITY and OMNI. Six hours of daily, local news at CITY, new programming in adherence to the Commissions new Broadcast Policy, along with the possibility of a return of local ethnic newscasts on a new OMNI regional channel — this could see real growth to local news coverage, something we haven’t seen in Vancouver for years.

6068 I support Unifor National and 723M’s conditional support of Rogers’ 9(1)(h) application and I concur with their statements and submissions from yesterday.

6069 In fact, most of my members enthusiastically endorse this plan. And why not, if it gets daily ethnic news back on the air? Canada’s multicultural communities would be the big winners. For only a few pennies a month it seems like a bargain. What could possibly go wrong?

6070 Well, unfortunately I don’t have to look too far back to recall CRTC expectations and directions that failed to deliver. As the Commission works to define its new broadcasting policy, I wonder how you will define well-funded, high-quality local news.

6071 Clearly the Commission has not been applying this measure in a consistent way to the Vancouver television market.

6072 CTV Vancouver employs over 80 people in producing their local news; Global BC employs over 150 people producing hours of local news; and Rogers Toronto operations employs over 200 people producing their local news. Is the Commission aware of how little resources Rogers has at its western stations? “First rate local coverage”? The evidence is to the contrary. Budget news with a bare bones staff is what Rogers has been doing in western Canada for the past decade.

6073 Following the 2014 licence renewals, we witnessed Rogers’ dramatic format change at OMNI, replacing Category 1 daily news with a Category 2(b) current affairs show, a decision that left dozens of ethnic Canadian journalists out of work just months before the last federal election. And we have a provincial election coming up this May 2017, and it makes you wonder what sort of coverage we’ll be able to — how much attention we’ll be able to pay to that.

6074 What got less attention at the time was the dramatic reductions to all of the Vancouver operations, both at CITY and OMNI. In fact, the overall staff was reduced by half.

6075 Today in Vancouver, it falls on Rogers’ few remaining employees to scramble every day. BT’s morning team are some of the most creative and hardest-working people in television. Given what little resources we have, “making air” every day is an amazing accomplishment.

6076 It’s with this lens that I ask you to view the importance of Rogers’ current proposal. Without clear conditions of licence on their CITY application and approval along with clear conditions of licence with the Regional channel, Rogers’ Vancouver operations could become a glorified news bureau for Toronto, and OMNI Vancouver could follow their Alberta operations with no daily in-house programming in just a couple of years.

6077 An additional $3 million to fund six hours of local news programming in their CITY stations outside of Toronto? This doesn’t sound like it will go very far. Will it result in well-funded, high-quality news? How many more journalists will actually be added in Vancouver? What are these six hours going to look like? We’ve got very few details to comment on in this process.

6078 If the Commission decides not to grant Rogers 9(1)(h), or require conditions of licence that would see daily, ethnic newscasts back on air in Vancouver, I feel a short-term licence would allow for a full review of your 1999 Ethnic Broadcasting Policy, followed by an open licensing process for all of Rogers’ OMNI licences. Your decision earlier this year, 2016-8, demonstrated just how important it is to have strong, specific, conditions of licence.

6079 To be clear what we need from the Commission to ensure there is local news in the future are specific conditions of licence, not expectations, directions or some other trusting form of “would be nice”, but conditions the public can hold Rogers to that will ensure they produce high quality, well funded, daily, original, in-house, local news programming, local journalists, editors, writers, videographers, and assignment editors feet on Vancouver’s streets.

6080 Thank you for your time today, and I’m prepared to answer any of your questions.

6081 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Hawkins. Ms. Vennard, Commissioner for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, will start us off.

6082 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good afternoon, Mr. Hawkins. Thanks for coming to our hearing virtually.

6083 I want — I have a couple of questions for you, and what I’m going to do is just ask you to put together a couple of things that you said in your original intervention.

6084 The first one — and I’m just going to quote you a couple of them — they’re short — in number 30 of your intervention, you said,

6085 “Rogers’ operations in Vancouver does not have a single person that works exclusively as a news reporter.”

6086 And in number 16, you said,

6087 “If the CRTC is serious about supporting local news, it must impose conditions that mandate specific levels of original local news for each station originated and produced by employees of that station.” (As read)

6088 And I’d like to know, what would you suggest would be appropriate?

6089 MR. HAWKINS: Well, instead of just simply an hours’ game — and we saw that with 14 hours — it was 14 hours in April 2015; it was 14 hours in May 2015 — yet we did it with, you know, half the staff. Some sort of a payroll calculation to hold them accountable so that they can’t change the payroll numbers and keep the hours up, because the quality clearly goes down —

6090 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What — can you —

6091 MR. HAWKINS: — you know, as witnessed by having one part-time reporter, you know?

6092 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What do you think it would take to get high-quality local news? What would that take, because you asked us in your oral submission. You say, ” I wonder how you will define well-funded, high-quality local news?”

6093 And so I’m turning to you, and I’m saying, “Considering what you said, and considering your intervention, how will you define — how would you define it?”

6094 MR. HAWKINS: Well, you know, we don’t have access to the specific numbers yet. When you look at the numbers of employees — and that’s why I went there — you know, every day when we’re out there and a competing television station is putting together a very good product with 18 journalists and we have 1 journalist, you know, that speaks volumes.

6095 So you know, setting specific hard numbers is hard, but something comparative to a city the size of Vancouver, that’s why some sort of a payroll calculation that would be a percentage, perhaps, of — you know, these are the numbers for accountants, not for me. But —

6096 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How many reporters, if —

6097 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, something like that. I mean, that’s the comparison.

6098 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How many — how many reporters, for example, if we look at the different people that are involved in that? How many reporters would you say would be required, because when, you know, when we’re talking about, you know, high-quality local news, like, I’d like to get some clarity on —

6099 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, and I think —

6100 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: — what that seems to be —

6101 MR. HAWKINS: — you have to be reasonable here, right?

6102 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: — from your point of view?

6103 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, and I’m going to be reasonable here. I’m not going to say, “Well, Rogers, you should do exactly what CTV and Global have done,” and we have the — for 10 years have not invested in it, so I don’t know that it’s reasonable to say that, you know, September 1st, 2017, that we should have, you know, 20 reporters. But certainly, starting out with, you know, a dozen visual content professionals that would be a combination of journalists, videographers, video content producers, that sort of commitment.

6104 You know, today when we talk about a journalist, it’s a very wide range when you’re looking at that definition. But it’s feet on the street, and people in the local community making editorial decisions.

6105 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So in your estimation, that would be, say, 12, 15, 10?

6106 MR. HAWKINS: Well, as a start, but I mean, if you again, compare it to what — and if you want to have a product that, you know, over the course of the five years, and you know, these hearings are looking at the five years and how will the industry be after five years. You know, you would hope that over the course of these regulated five years, at the end of the five years, that Rogers and the other players — but I mean, Rogers is the one that I’m most concerned with — will be able to build a product in this regulated environment that will thrive in a non-regulated environment.

6107 And as they build this new product that they’re talking about, which we have very few details on, you know, hopefully that will be the vision. And there has been some indication that we’re not going to make what I think would be the mistake of chasing the other guys, doing what they do well, but to, you know, within the context of local storytelling and strong journalism, to build a new product that’s really better positioned for the future than perhaps a legacy product.

6108 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: As I understand from your intervention, you know, when we’re talking about news, you’ve got the news itself, the actual news, whatever that is, be it City Hall or something happening in the city or whatever is news; and then with the local reflection, then that’s something that happens as well.

6109 So you can see where, you know, we’re trying to — we’re looking at how — what should this look like, as — and particularly for OMNI?

6110 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I mean, you’ve got local — it’s soft news and hard news, if you will, and some days —

6111 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, and I’m not looking —

6112 MR. HAWKINS: — you know, the slate is full of hard news.

6113 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I’m not looking for answers — I’m not looking for answers from you. That’s, you know, that’s up to us, but I’m looking for your thoughts on these.

6114 MR. HAWKINS: Sorry, could you repeat the question?

6115 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, I said I’m not looking for answers from you. I’m looking for your thoughts on some of these issues.

6116 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, but specifically, what? On local —

6117 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: The news and the local reflection —

6118 MR. HAWKINS: — reflection?

6119 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: The news and the local reflection on news within OMNI.

6120 MR. HAWKINS: Well, within OMNI, you know, they’re doing it all from the studio right now, and it’s the national newscasts, you know, that wouldn’t be local Vancouver news, it would be regional news. But I certainly would see more journalists on the street telling those stories.

6121 And you know, I was in Fusaki (with Visaki and) during the Chinese New Year, reflecting those and you know, perhaps doing programming outside of the one-hour local news programming, but doing specific community programs celebrating those important events.

6122 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I have just one more question for you. You say that Rogers should be given an administrative extension. Would you like to explain that or comment on that?

6123 MR. HAWKINS: Well, that’s a comment on their application that would be the application without the mandatory carriage, without the 9(1)(h). And the — their proposal, and even in some of their comments, they’ve really indicated that it would be a very short window that they would even be able to commit to their current affairs show. And in their — in Susan Wheeler’s submission that she made in August and gave, you know, a great list of what the 9(1)(h) would present, it also gave an indication as what they feel the current licence doesn’t require them to do.

6124 And it’s — you know, it’s just not enough, and they — their current licence, in their submission, they wouldn’t even have to do the current affairs show.

6125 So in that case, I would think that the Commission should review the ethnic broadcasting policy and out of that, have an open process to see who could do the best job of fulfilling the commitments of these licences with an open process, you know? Rogers would be included in that as well as others.

6126 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I just have one final question for you. I’m wondering, would it be accurate to say that your organization does not support the 9(1)(h) application?

6127 MR. HAWKINS: No, I’d say that we do support the 9(1)(h) application and our suggestions are how to make it stronger. We think that’s a way to support the multicultural community that deserves, you know, free over-the-air local TV and local news. It’s a great way to provide that service to them.

6128 COMMISSIONERS VENNARD: With the changes that you suggest?

6129 MR. HAWKINS: That would be the conditional support, yes.


6131 MR. HAWKINS: Certainly their proposal, you know, the details that they gave in August, if they could provide, you know, as a condition of licence, the details in the paragraph 34, I mean, that would be something I think our members would enthusiastically support.

6132 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you. I have no more questions.

6133 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation and your participation in this phase. And you’ve got the honour of closing out Phase II of this public hearing so thank you very much, Mr. Hawkins.

Open letter to Minister Joly

“Minister, we cannot hold elected representatives and powerful private institutions to account when there is no journalist to cover the story, investigate it, analyze it, publish it or broadcast it.”

Minister, it’s on our watch

Minister Joly,

You have stated that “everything is on the table” as your government embarks on a digital re-set of our $50-billion media industries.

From film production and TV broadcasting to internet streaming and news journalism, your ministry’s current public consultation will touch on core Canadian values, our expression of who we are, and our access to the information needed to hold political leaders and powerful institutions to account.

We write to you today as members of Unifor – Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 310,000 Canadians including 12,000 media workers and journalists. As the voice of those working in this important industry, with an especially large presence in local TV, print, and digital news coverage, we encourage you and your cabinet colleagues to keep in mind three things during the big media rethink.

First, no matter how globalized the digital world becomes, we can’t lose sight of the basic principle of supporting Canadian news, information and entertainment in our media. Government assistance and regulation has always been our hedge against the natural tendency of American media to overwhelm our media and our sovereign identity.

Second, our governments have long supported Canadian media through film production tax credits and government funding for the CBC. Thanks to government regulation, large media companies have provided important financial support for independent film productions funds and local TV. That support needs to continue and be adjusted to the new digital media environment.

Third, digital disruption has revolutionized the media advertising market, and not to Canada’s advantage. Large media companies – particularly large US tech giants – have gobbled up this country’s media advertising market. Canadian news providers are being starved for the ad dollars that allow them to provide free or low-cost news to Canadians. That flow of Canadian news and information is vital to our democracy. Let us not mince words: the financial viability of news coverage is in peril.

Minister Joly, as you move forward with public consultations on Canada’s media landscape, Unifor urges intelligent regulation to protect what Canadians value most. We look forward to meeting your committee to discuss the problems we see on the ground as media workers and journalists, and offering some of the solutions that can help.


Canada’s Journalists and Media Workers

Unifor’s 11 page submission to CCDW can be found at:






Unifor calls on CRTC to boost local news

 Unifor is calling upon Canada’s federal TV regulator to put teeth into broadcasters’ licence conditions for daily local news, including programming targeted to Canada’s ethnically diverse populations.

Unifor filed two submissions to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on August 15, one regarding ethnic and third language OMNI television, and the other regarding local TV “group licence” applications from Rogers, Corus, and Bell Media CTV.

While Unifor supports the principle behind a Rogers proposal for a mandatory monthly cable TV fee of 12 cents per subscriber to pay for daily news on its OMNI channels, the union is calling for tough conditions of license before Rogers gets the money. Unifor is also calling for the fee to be 15 cents to sustain hour-long daily news shows.

“If we are going to have a subscriber fee it has to be enough to get the job done,” said Unifor Media Director Howard Law. “This minimal fee for third language and ethnic daily news is certainly in the same ballpark as existing fees for aboriginal and minority language French and English channels.”

OMNI channels provided an hour of news programming just a few years ago, then cut it to 30 minutes, and then cut it altogether last year. OMNI was the only broadcaster providing news in Mandarin, Cantonese, Italian and Punjabi.

On the group licensing for local TV stations, Unifor is calling upon CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais to back up the statement he made in June 2016:  “As custodians of the television system, broadcasters have a special obligation to ensure that the system reflects our identity, contributes to our democracy and enhances our safety and security. Local news, information and analysis produced and distributed through the broadcasting system are of central importance to meeting these objectives.”

Unifor supports strict standards for broadcaster expenditures on local TV as well as air time for local programming. It also supports enforceable standards for the number of reporters covering a given community and less centrally produced news segments.

“Canadians turn to their local TV channels expecting to see their communities reflected on their television screens. They also need TV news reporting to hold government and powerful institutions to account” Law said.

Public hearings on licence conditions begin in late November in the national capital region.



BC’s Family Day on February 8th is just another day at work for Unionized employees.  Some members have decided to use their one Union floater day on the 8th, however it is not mandatory.  We were unsuccessful in getting the Company to recognize this provincial stat, they do recognize BC Day in August and Remembrance Day in November.


Rogers wealth accumulation program and employee discount program are now available to all unionized employees at CITY and OMNI.  Contact a member of the Executive Board or any fellow member who has signed up to find out how to take advantage of these great offers.


Rogers has announced they are no longer going to be offering a Defined Benefits (DB) Pension to new employees, opting to offer a less attractive Defined Contribution (DC) Pension. Current employee will remain in the DB plan. Over a dozen members who are currently not taking advantage of this very generous DB plan have until June 30th, 2016 to sign up or you will lose out.

Many employees who were laid off last May and had been in the plan since 2009 were paid out over a $60,000 benefit from Rogers DB Pension plan.



CRTC Decision 2016-8 denied the applications by Unifor Local 723M and Urban Alliance on Race Relations for an expedited public hearing into Rogers’ May 2015 decision to cancel local third-language newscasts on its OMNI stations.

Ontario CRTC commissioner Raj Shoan disagreed with the decision and said that the CRTC should have taken this opportunity to undertake a review of the 1999 Ethnic Broadcasting Policy in conjunction with this decision.

While the CRTC spins its wheels with bureaucratic process Vancouver’s Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi communities will continue to be denied the daily local ethnic news Rogers promised Canadians when it received its licence renewal for OMNI just last year.

That said, the OMNI cuts issue has come up several times during the CRTC’s current public hearing on local television.

Let’s Talk Local TV News

Local President Steve Hawkins appeared in front of the CRTC’s current hearing into local TV news, on Thursday, January 28th.

He called for stronger conditions of licence to require Rogers to provide the levels of local news programming they promised Canadians when they were allowed to purchase CITY and OMNI.  He said the CRTC’s lack of conditions of licence allowed Rogers to make programming changes that resulted devastating job loss.

From his presentation:

“Some have asked if local programming on OMNI and CITY in western Canada is the canary in the coal mine for local news.  If it is, that canary is lying on the bottom of the cage and its future prospects don’t look very good.  It’s being starved of the resources it needs to survive”.

He also called on the CRTC to conduct a separate review of the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy.

A full transcript of his presentation can be found on the Local web site:

Video of the presentation can be found on CPAC2, Jan 28th, second posting at 1:45 to 2:05

Interestingly, when the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (the 2nd party to file an application on the OMNI cuts) appeared on Friday – emphasizing ethnic communities’ shock at the CRTC’s unwillingness to take action over the cuts – the CRTC’s Chair, Jean-Pierre Blais essentially said that Rogers was not yet off the hook for local news, and that he very much hoped the Alliance (and others) would be involved in the spring 2017 renewal process.

The CRTC will likely be sending out broadcasters’ television licence renewal application forms this September, for a hearing in March/April or even earlier – Jean-Pierre Blais’ term as CRTC Chair ends 7 June 2017:  if he wants to set his mark on the renewal decisions, they would probably have to happen by February, to permit the decisions to be issued within the next four months.

Stephen will be travelling to Ottawa in the first week in February to call on the new Liberal Government to require the CRTC to act on these important policies and to support the work we do in providing local news and local programming on CITY and OMNI