CBC President Hubert T Lacroix
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
"It depends on the program, depends on the history, depends on the age of the employees, those numbers are higher than they are in the private sector, they have improved, but not to our satisfaction," Hubert Lacroix, president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, told reporters at the CBC's Annual General Meeting held at the Rooms Theatre here. "We think that's a high number, we are constantly going to work on it, and it's one way, surely, of trying to see how we can improve the cost piece of CBC."
Lacroix said the taxpayer-funded news network is becoming more transparent every year.
Sun News Network's Brian Lilley reported that while private sector workers are away from work about 8.9 days per year and public sector employees are gone 12.6 days annually, the average hooky tally for CBC workers is 16.5 days per year.
Those missed days cost taxpayers $17.7 million in 2010-11. The state broadcaster gets more than $1 Billion per year from federal government coffers.
Speaking to a crowd of about 100 people, and more over the internet, CBC reporters on the panel reflected on their careers for their watching fans.
"It's kind of a vocation to work for the CBC, everybody believes in it, or they wouldn't be there," said television host Tom Harrington, choking-up when thinking back on his more than 30 years with the Corp. "In our industry there are a lot of jobs that pay better than we do, but the fact is people are at CBC because we can do everything you just heard, when you go to those other places (private broadcasters) there just isn't the range of opportunity to stretch your wings as a journalist."
Others told questioners that they are never advised to approach a story in a certain way.
"No one has ever picked up the phone and said to me, 'Uh-huh, don't do that, go easy on that, or don't go down that road.' I am fiercely proud of that at CBC I think we would burn the place down if someone tried to do that to us," said veteran foreign correspondent Adrienne Arsenault.
She said interaction with the audience has changed news programming.
"It used to be that watching television news was a very passive act, there were white men who made decisions about what was important for your life and they showed it to you on television and you watched or you didn't and that was it - that's not the way it works anymore."
Officials say the bilingual, webcast event costs between $60,000 and $80,000 to hold each year, complete with a CBC cake and coffee for attendees.