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A taxpayers group is holding the CBC’s heels to the fire after the state broadcaster refused to release records of how much money its senior executives made in bonuses. 

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner in response to CBC’s continued stonewalling of bonus records.

The OIC is the governing body which investigates such complaints and is responsible for resolving disputes regarding federal access-to-information requests. 

“As a matter of principle, the CBC owes transparency to the taxpayers who pay their salaries,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “The CBC is also required to follow access to information law, but in this case, they’re blatantly breaking it.”

The OIC complaint could force the CBC to disclose how much was doled out in bonus pay to seven of the broadcaster’s senior executives last year. 

The CTF initially filed an access-to-information request in March, demanding the details of the bonuses and the CBC responded by issuing a 30-day extension notice on April 9. 

The extension protected the CBC from releasing records up until May 10, only days after its president Catherine Tait testified before a parliamentary heritage committee about that same issue. 

The committee meeting was ultimately shut down by Liberal MPs after Tait refused to disclose her taxpayer-funded performance bonus, sparking a heated exchange with Conservative MP Rachael Thomas.

“As of the end of March of 2024, what is the recommendation for your 2023 bonus?” asked Thomas. 

“As I’ve said previously, these conversations are subject to internal deliberations by the management team to the board of directors. We have not had that conversation with the board that is scheduled for June 12 and 13th,” responded Tait. 

“We will have that conversation, at which point, the final results will have been audited and reviewed by the auditor general, we don’t simply precipitously pre-announce results when we haven’t had the privilege of the auditor and our internal audit process.”

The CBC released records on May 10 that revealed its seven senior executives were collectively given $3,793,000 in bonuses, working out to an average bonus of over $540,000 per person, although the individual bonuses each executive received have yet to be revealed.

Additionally, 1,143 CBC staff members collectively received $15 million in bonuses from taxpayers last year. 

The bonuses were doled out by the broadcaster while it simultaneously laid off 10% of its workforce.

While CBC refuses to release detailed documents of how taxpayer money is being spent, other crown corporations like the Bank of Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation have provided such information in response to access-to-information requests. 

The CBC did respond to the CTF to confirm that its access-to-information request had been received, however, the broadcaster has continued to withhold the information. 

“Tait seems to think she’s above the law and shouldn’t have to show the same transparency her journalists demand from politicians,” Terrazzano said. “If Tait thinks she deserves her bonus, she should be honest with taxpayers about how much she took.

“Taxpayers have every right to know how much CBC senior executives took from them in bonuses last year. One way or another, the CTF will drag this information into the light.”

The Trudeau government announced that it would be giving the CBC an additional $42 million in funding in its latest federal budget released last month. 

The extra funding comes at a time of further declining subscriptions and ad revenues last year and more potential layoffs for the state broadcaster.