President claimed $119,309 in expenses amid CBC financial woes: Report

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The president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada filed for expenses of more than $119,000 at a time when she complained to the government about the broadcaster’s financial woes, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

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Catherine Tait, who earns $497,000 per year, ran up more than $119,000 in expenses at the same time the CBC complained of “immense pressure” on its finances.

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“The public broadcaster faces chronic underfunding,” Tait testified on Jan. 30 in front of the House of Commons heritage committee.

The CBC had to “stretch limited resources to meet our mandate,” she said.

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Access-to-information records showed that between Nov. 1, 2021, and Nov. 1, 2023, Tait billed for $119,309 in expenses.

At the time, the CBC claimed the “COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges covering it put immense pressure on CBC,” according to a 2021 Department of Canadian Heritage briefing note Funding Support for the CBC. Tait had also said that the network faced a shortfall of $125 million and warned employees about potential job cuts.

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“Like all media, we face rising costs of operations and production and declines in revenue. We alerted the government to our financial challenge last summer,” she said.

An access-to-information request showed that Tait billed for five-figure international junkets and flew business class. Expenses included $12,841 for a 2022 Tokyo conference of Public Broadcasters International; $12,673 for a 2022 European tour to London, Brussels and Geneva; $12,220 to Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2021 for discussions with the International Olympic Committee; $10,334 for a 2023 Prague conference of Public Broadcasters International; $9,841 for a 2022 trip to Hollywood for meetings with production industry representatives; and $9,648 for a 2022 trip to London for a discussion on threats facing journalists.

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Tait also billed for business class travel within Canada. In 2022, she billed for $2,155 to attend the Toronto International Film Festival; a trip to the Yorkton Film Festival in Saskatchewan last May and “meetings with Saskatchewan regional CBC employees” cost $4,062; Tait expensed $5,231 to attend the 2023 Juno Awards in Edmonton; and a ”senior executive team retreat” in 2022 at a Gatineau, Que., spa, the Moulin Wakefield Mill, cost $6,055.

Other expenses included $638 for a 2022 dinner at an Ottawa restaurant with CBC lobbyist Shaun Poulter and other guests. The meal included $118 for King Salmon and $112 for a rabbit dish.

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