Federal budget a good start, but not enough to save newspapers: Unifor Local 87-M

Canada's largest media union says the Liberal budget announcement of $10 million per year for five years for community newspapers is on the right track, but not enough to rescue local news.

"The money will do some good in small communities," said Unifor national president Jerry Dias. "But the threat to local news exists in every one of 100 Canadian cities, big, middle and small. This budget commitment doesn't rise to the challenge."

Dias said that the $10 million is a token commitment towards the $350 million that the news industry needs, and a fraction of the $150 million that the Liberal government acknowledged was necessary to revive the CBC.

"Google and Facebook own the advertising market that used to sustain Canadian news outlets," said Dias. "The government can't just watch while local newsrooms disappear."

Dias said the federal government should reconsider industry recommendations to align the tax rules on digital advertising with print and broadcast media.

The government doesn't have to write big cheques to Canadian newspaper companies if it treats Google and Facebook the same as American print and TV companies, Dias said.

"We need more money to support frontline news, and we need a revamp of the federal tax laws that is fair to Canadian online journalism," said Paul Morse, president of Unifor Local 87-M, which represents about 2,000 media workers across southern Ontario, primarily in newspapers.

Canadian newsrooms have shrunk by 25 per cent since the Liberals took office in 2015.

For further information: Paul Morse, 905-536-5650, paul@unifor87m.org.