After getting their chunk of a nearly $600-million taxpayer bailout of media groups, one of Canada’s largest chains then turned around and fired 111 staffers, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
And federal documents confirm a $595 million newspaper bailout did not create jobs as promised.
Records in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court indicate the Halifax Chronicle Herald’s Saltwire Network Inc., publisher of dozens of newspapers across the Maritimes, fired 111 employees on Sept. 1, 2020.
They were among 237 workers that had earlier been laid off as a pandemic precaution, according to management.
“SaltWire contends in March 2020 its business was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote Justice Kevin Coady.
“Revenues were substantially reduced. Wrongful dismissal claims are “in the early stages of litigation,” he wrote.
Court records concern claims by six former employees, all Prince Edward Island residents, who had worked for SaltWire and its predecessor for decades.
“They range in age from 50 to 58 years,” wrote Coady. The most junior employee had 19 years’ service. The longest-serving had worked at a Charlottetown production plant for 33 years.
SaltWire Network received an undisclosed grant under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy last year, according to federal records. The company also benefited from payroll rebates, a maximum $13,750 per employee, under a newspaper bailout program passed by Parliament in 2019.
The same Nova Scotia Supreme Court in a separate ruling last June 17 awarded $88,000 in damages to another longtime SaltWire employee fired in the cost-cutting program.
Jerry Slater, 61, a 39-year employee, was terminated without notice as part of Chronicle Herald staff cuts.
“Jerry Slater lost his job with the Herald after a career of almost four decades through no fault of his own,” wrote Justice Jamie Campbell.
“There is dignity in work.”
Herald lawyers had argued the company “owed him nothing at all,” according to court records.
The Department of Canadian Heritage in a February 10 briefing note acknowledged no new jobs resulted from the bailout.
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