This is sad news for fans of Canadian television!

CBC-TV Toronto laying off employees
TORONTO (CP) – Seventy-nine CBC employees – including workers who build sets, style hair and apply makeup – received layoff notices Thursday, a move critics called “the end of a television era” at the public broadcaster.
“CBC Television continues to face significant financial pressures and we must continue to reduce spending in order to fund programming priorities,” said a memo from Fred Mattocks, executive director of regional programming and television production and Doug Broadfoot, director of the Toronto production centre.
“At the end of the day, we faced a tough business decision: not one we wanted to make, but one that was necessary.”
The layoffs, planned for mid-August, will affect set design, set decoration, carpentry, paint shops, special effects, hair, costumes and props.
In addition, there were 20 “voluntary layoffs” and seven other vacant positions that will not be filled, says network spokeswoman Ruth-Ellen Soles. That brings the production centre’s staff down to 432 from 538, she added.
Mattocks estimates the savings at a minimum of $1 million a year.
The memo noted that few major public broadcasters around the world – including the BBC – still maintain substantial in-house design teams. From now on, independent producers and co-producers will be required to handle all design needs, the memo added.
The Canadian Media Guild, which represents most of the affected employees, said the layoffs wipe out almost the entire TV design department, leaving only a few makeup people for news and current affairs.
“What it means is the CBC will no longer be able to fully produce its own shows inside,” said Lise Lareau, the CMG’s national president.
“It’s the end of a television era at the CBC.”
Lareau says producers of shows like the Royal Canadian Air Farce and even The National will have to outsource any new sets they want built.
“There’s not going to be anybody who can do sets left, or do carpentry to create sets, or paint.
“The CBC is essentially announcing it will not do any other kind of production, other than news or current affairs, internally, ever again.”
Air Farce cast member Don Ferguson characterized the move as “the end of a dream.”
“They all got called to a meeting this morning at 9 o’clock and were told ‘That’s it’, they’re closing the whole operation down and they’re all out of here by August the 11th.”
Ferguson said the Farce gets scripts Monday morning, then the sets are designed Tuesday and delivered to the studio by Wednesday for rehearsals. The show is taped Thursday in front of a live audience.
He’s not sure how things will work after the layoffs.
The latest cutbacks follow on the heels of a CBC move a year ago to drop more than 30 in-house publicists in favour of contracting out the work. The majority of those jobs lost were in Toronto and some of the people landed work with Media Profile, a public relations company hired to promote CBC programming.
Those layoffs came after CBC’s communications department was asked to cut $1.7 million, to be funnelled back into programming.
At the time, savings from the outsourcing were expected to amount to $864,000, but Guild officials have disputed that claim.
The announcement also comes amid reports that the new Heritage Minister Bev Oda wants a thorough review of the public broadcaster’s mandate.