Union representing Global News workers says Vancouver newsroom took the biggest hit, with 21 staff laid off.

Global News has become the latest Canadian media organization to announce sweeping job cuts.

Unifor, the union representing many Global News workers, said in a statement released today that 69 of their members have been laid off. Global News has reported the total number of cuts is closer to 80 people.

Among those cut are “camera operators, reporters, anchors, control room staff, make-up artists and other production crew,” according to Unifor.

According to the Global News report, the layoffs come part of a Global News reorganization that is “part of its transformation into a sustainable, digital-first organization.” Troy Reeb, senior vice-president of Global News and Corus Radio, said that more resources will be directed into four new local digital-first bureaus Global is opening in Ottawa, Kitchener, Guelph and Barrie. According to Global News, laid-off employees will have the opportunity to apply for 50 new positions that are being created to serve the new digital-first mandate.

The biggest cuts came in Vancouver, according to Unifor, where 21 staff were laid off.

In New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, evening newscasts will no longer be produced locally in Halifax. Instead, they will be anchored in Toronto and broadcast remotely. “Our studios will be empty after the morning show ends at 9 a.m.,” said David MacPherson, president of the Maritimes unit of Unifor local M1, in a statement.

A Global News spokesperson told J-Source in an email that they will “continue to use our award-winning multi-market content production model in the Maritimes,” adding this model has been used for the past three years in markets across Canada “including in the Maritimes at 11 p.m. and the weekends.”

Unifor representatives have yet to respond to J-Source’s request for comment on this story. In a statement, Unifor president Jerry Dias said that their members are being asked to fill the same number of programming hours with fewer resources.

“The CRTC paved the way for the cuts announced today by watering down the obligations for big media companies like Corus to protect local news and it’s proving disastrous,” Dias said.

Last year, Global News announced it was directing $10 million towards boosting community reporting, including establishing city hall bureaus and municipal affairs specialists. However, that came at the same time as the network closed three local Shaw TV stations in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

In January 2016, Shaw sold its media arm to Corus Entertainment for $2.65 billion, which added Global News and Shaw TV to the Corus portfolio.

In the first quarter of Corus’ 2018 fiscal year, the company had a two per cent drop in revenues compared to the year before. Advertising revenues dropped three per cent.

Reeb told Global News that these cuts were not a reactive move to a drop in Corus’ stock price.

This story will be updated as details become available.