While the decision by CHCH television in Hamilton to file for bankruptcy shows the need to reform the regulations governing local broadcasting, the company's needlessly insensitive treatment of its loyal staff is equally disturbing, Canada's media union says.
"Local broadcasting reflecting the community around us is at the heart of our democracy," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
"The people hurt by this decision have dedicated their careers to telling local stories to their community. And like all workers in such difficult circumstances, they deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy."
Even as rumours swirled at CHCH throughout the day about the future of the station, the dedicated staff continued to prepare stories for that evening's newscast.
By the end of the day, those broadcasts were canceled and employees told they would lose their jobs, though about 70 were offered a chance to be rehired by a new company under the same corporate umbrella.
"This has been an incredibly difficult day. A lot of very talented staff have lost their jobs today, and Hamilton is diminished for it," said Phil Fraboni, President of the Hamilton unit of Unifor Local Media 1.
The company also said it would not honour the commitments it made in its collective agreement with Unifor, the union representing staff at the station, and required any staff hoping to be rehired to sign contracts.
Dias said Unifor will continue to meet with the company and to stand up for the rights of all employees.
The station's actions are an example of the failures of the CRTC under the previous Harper Government to address the funding needs of local broadcasters, Dias said.
"Across Canada, local broadcasters are struggling. With a new government in Ottawa, we have an opportunity to act to ensure such cuts are not repeated," he said.