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Bell Media to cut 270 jobs in Toronto, 110 in Montreal

The cuts have made Bell Media considerably leaner, slashed salary costs, and simplified a reporting structure that had grown complicated after Bell took over Astral Media in 2014.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ongoing cost-cutting at Bell Media will see the company slash about 270 jobs in Toronto and 110 more in Montreal by the end of November.

The 380 proposed cuts are outlined by Bell Media's vice-president of human resources, Anne McNamara, in a pair of letters to the new Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuck. The letters are dated Nov. 5, and The Globe and Mail obtained copies.

In Toronto, the cuts will eliminate about 220 positions from the production, editorial and operations functions of Bell Media, a division of BCE Inc., 45 jobs from sales and marketing, and five administrative or clerical roles. In Montreal, the breakdown for the same categories will be 70, 35 and five.

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A Bell Media spokesperson confirmed that the letters were posted inside Bell's Toronto and Montreal offices on Thursday.

Under its new president, Mary Ann Turcke, Bell Media began a major shakeup of its staff in late August, beginning with its most senior ranks, as influential programming executive Phil King and three other senior figures overseeing TV and radio were let go. Further cuts followed among vice-presidents in September and then at the director level in early October, as an unspecified number of staff – many of them long-serving – were dismissed.

The cuts have made Bell Media considerably leaner, slashed salary costs, and simplified a reporting structure that had grown complicated after Bell took over Astral Media in 2014.

The 380 job cuts outlined in the letters are still to come, and will affect staff below the director level, including many rank-and-file employees who are not in management roles. According to a previous internal memo from Ms. Turcke, the restructuring will be finished by the end of November.

In a conference call on Thursday discussing BCE's third-quarter results, president and chief executive officer George Cope told analysts the restructuring "is really the result of the CRTC rules, so we will be changing our cost structure to reflect that going into 2016." He said he would not discuss the restructuring further until the company's next quarterly results are announced in early February.

"Bell Media operates within the broadcasting industry. The above reductions are required as Bell Media confronts a fast-changing multimedia landscape and must evolve its business in order to compete and grow now, and in the future," read the letters, which are marked "Confidential."

According to the Canada Labour Code, the company must notify the minister if it plans to dismiss more than 50 employees in a given location during a four-week span.

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"I can confirm that those [letters] were posted today, as required by the Canada Labour Code, and those letters were issued to the Minister of Labour," said Scott Henderson, vice-president of communications for Bell Media.

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About the Author
Banking Reporter

James Bradshaw is banking reporter for the Report on Business. He covered media from 2014 to 2016, and higher education from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a cultural reporter for Globe Arts, and has written for both the Toronto section and the editorial page. More

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