No bonuses for CBC executives, but 'incentive pay' a possibility, says president and CEO

CBC head claims it's not her decision who gets performance-based pay

No bonuses for CBC executives, but 'incentive pay' a possibility, says president and CEO

In the face of impending layoffs at the Crown corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) executive team will not be receiving “so-called bonuses” for the fiscal year – but they may or may not be eligible for “incentive pay”.

This is the statement provided by Catherine Tait, CBC president and CEO, on Tuesday evening during the first House of Commons Heritage Committee of the year 2024.

“It’s not my decision whether I get a bonus or not,” said Tait, according to the National Post.

“It is not my decision to award performance pay. It is, in fact, the decision of the board of directors, and that decision comes at the end of the fiscal year. We have another two months before we reach the end of the fiscal year,” she added, according to Global News.

Before the holiday recess, members of the heritage committee voted unanimously to call the CBC CEO and other executives to testify.

Layoffs of 600 leads to bonus controversy

The question of whether or not CBC executives will get bonuses came into the limelight after the employer announced its plan to cut about 600 union and non-union positions and eliminate 200 currently vacant positions. Managing roughly $125 million in budget pressures forecast for the 2024–25 fiscal year is the reason for the layoffs, according to CBC.

"Given the job cuts announced at CBC/Radio-Canada for the year 2024, it would be inappropriate for the CBC to grant bonuses to executive members," the committee said before the recess.

But the layoffs forecast could still change depending on CBC’s financial results at the end of fiscal 2023, which comes in March, said Tait.

“As I have also said in public, everything is on the table. So, we will see at the end of the fiscal year, based on results, where we are financially.”

CBC’s $14.9-million bonuses

In 2023, after fiscal 2022, CBC/Radio-Canada awarded $14.9 million in compensation to more than 1,100 people. This was calculated on individual and the corporation’s performance, Marco Dubé, CBC/Radio-Canada’s chief transformation officer, told MPs, according to the National Post.

“These are not frivolous awards given at Christmas time,” said Tait, according to the National Post report. She said that amount is “an extremely small number” in comparison to $950 million of the entire payroll.

Global News, citing CBC documents, previously reported that Tait would likely make more than $120,000 in bonuses on top of her six-figure salary in 2023. The maximum possible bonus is $145,880 if she is at the top end of her salary range, according to Global News.

‘It’s hard to stomach’

Talking about the CBC’s announcement of layoff plans in December 2023 after executives received their bonuses in March last year, Liberal MP Michael Coteau said that “it’s hard to stomach” for Canadians that millions might be going out in bonuses, especially when they see job cuts.

“Usually, bonuses happen when things are good… but things are not good,” he said.

On top of the job cuts, CBC would also reduce its English and French programming budgets for the next fiscal year, including $40 million in independent production commissions and program acquisitions.

CBC would also implement $25 million in “discretionary cost reductions”, which include travel, sponsorships and marketing, and postpone technology initiatives, noted the National Post.

“At $33 per Canadian, a dime a day, CBC/Radio-Canada is one of the worst-funded public broadcasters in the world,” Tait said in the Global News report.

“Until that situation changes, we must continue to manage with what we have and do our very best to stretch limited resources to meet our mandate.”

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