Although the media have been labeled as an “essential service” in the context of COVID-19, no financial support has yet been provided in the Legault government’s Emergency Plan.
This situation has caused some elected officials to react, notably the Member of National Assembly (MNA) for Verdun and the official opposition in culture and communications, Isabelle Melançon, who discussed the subject in an interview with CHIP 101.9.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 81 employees laid-off in the radios associated with the Association des radios communautaire du Québec (ARCQ). This number represents 40% of the employees in all community radio stations. The ARCQ estimates the percentage to reach 60% by the end of the month. Other media and media groups producing information, including La Presse, Quebecor and Cogeco, who have also had to make certain cuts, temporary or permanent, internally.
According to Melançon, special attention must be accorded for the survival of information, in order to allow journalists in Quebec to continue their work.
In her opinion, local media should be included in the government emergency plans. Recalling that the government has bought more media advertising across the province than ever, nevertheless she is hoping to ensure that the media are not “forgotten” in the recovery plan, which is starting to be part of the discussions in the National Assembly .
The full interview in French with the MNA for Verdun and official opposition critic for culture et de communication, Isabelle Melançon, is available here.