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Trudeau calls Bell Canada’s mass layoffs ‘a garbage decision’

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has joined those criticizing BCE Inc.’s mass layoffs that would leave 4,800 people unemployed.

“This is a garbage decision by a corporation that should know better,” the Prime Minister told reporters on Friday, the day after Bell Canada announced the job cuts. “I’m pretty pissed off about what’s just happened.”

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Trudeau said media layoffs have been eroding Canada’s “very democracy” at a time that people need reliable news sources more than ever given misinformation and disinformation.

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The job cuts at Bell Canada are poised to reduce its employee count by nine per cent, with under 10 per cent of that coming from the Bell Media division.

BCE has not specified which other positions are slated for elimination but said the reductions will be implemented at all levels across the company.

“Wherever possible, we are using vacancies and natural attrition to minimize impact on our team,” Bell Canada communications director Jacqueline Michelis said in an email.

The Prime Minister’s comments come after his heritage minister Pascale St-Onge criticized the company for breaking its promise to invest in news after it was granted more than $40 million in annual regulatory relief.

“They’re still making billions of dollars. They’re still a very profitable company and they still have the capacity and the means to hold their end of the bargain which is to deliver news reports,” St-Onge said.

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, said it was outraged by the layoffs, which will affect 800 of its union members.

“This is absolutely devastating news for thousands of workers and their families. Adding insult to injury, the company is conducting this mass layoff while increasing dividends to shareholders and buying back shares,” said Unifor national president Lana Payne.

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