The following memo was sent to staff on May 11, 2020 from Canadian Press president Malcolm Kirk
To all CP/PMNA staff:
I am writing to you today on several matters, but I would like to begin with a sincere hope that you and your families are well, and that you are coping with this long disruption and redefinition of what our routines look like.
It affects us all and each of us reacts differently to the stresses of these circumstances. Don’t lose sight of the importance of your health, and the importance of the work you do to support the CP and PMNA mission.
Our journalism continues uninterrupted and we are proud of the work being done to cover not just the pandemic story, but all of the news. The work done by our reporters, photographers and editors on the recent horrific shootings in Nova Scotia was simply exemplary and earned massive play nationally and internationally where CP was an important conduit to deliver details from a complex breaking news story.
Editorial production services provided by our staff at PMNA continue to be delivered with high quality, on time, and to the great satisfaction of our clients.
Our sales and marketing team is working hard – and in new, creative ways – to drive revenue opportunities for our business.
Hats off to our IT team who are busy configuring more laptops and finding innovative solutions to thorny everyday technical problems that keep our systems running and make our lives easier.
To our finance, HR and office support teams, thank you for all of your efforts to round up payments, provide help and personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff who need it, and to keep our facilities safe and secure.
At the same time, the pandemic continues to take a toll on parts of our business. Sadly, we have had to make a number of temporary layoffs at PMNA affecting four sports agate editors and a commercial video editor. We have also reduced hours on some desks at PMNA, in the sports department at the French Service, and in commercial assignments. These changes, too, are intended to be temporary. It is our sincere hope to welcome back all of those affected once the work returns. These were difficult decisions but unfortunately necessary in light of the revenue impacts in these areas.
With provinces planning or implementing plans to re-open their economies and emerge slowly from lockdown, we are evaluating guidelines for staff, particularly reporters and photographers, to stay safe as we cover this societal reawakening. The overriding priority is safety.
Many of our journalists are keen to get outside and cover this story, and as I reviewed in my last memo, we relaxed our position on this recently and we are continuing to do so with important caveats.
No journalist will be asked to cover an assignment she or he is uncomfortable taking on. For journalists and photographers working in public venues, our policy is to respect and follow physical distancing, hand hygiene and PPE best practices as outlined by public health authorities.
For our journalists, you should discuss every outside assignment with your supervisor to assess its risk. We care deeply about your safety and want to hear your concerns if you have them. You may feel safer wearing a cloth mask on assignment, for example. We will be providing additional information for our editorial teams on PPE shortly.
You are also bound to be curious about the company’s intentions for returning to work at our offices. We have established an internal group to develop a plan in this regard. It is an enormously complex matter. It’s also likely to prove more challenging than the move out of our offices in March.
There are many issues to consider, including how to return to offices while respecting physical distancing and PPE protocols, the risks to staff using public transportation networks and the safety/cleanliness/social distancing issues there, assessing the actual presence of the COVID-19 virus in the population and the possibility of emerging new waves of outbreaks as lockdown restrictions are eased.
The plan will also contemplate the extent to which remote working will be part of our future operating model. In short, we don’t want to return to offices too early and then have to leave again soon after.
We will continue to do our utmost to assess these issues each and every day as we form our plan. We will keep you informed on our progress. For the time being, though, we will continue to work from home. The horizon to return to offices will be measured in weeks, not days. It is the only approach that respects safety as the top priority.
In conclusion, please take care of yourselves and your families. Make an effort to maintain your connections with friends and family. Talk to people. Stay safe and practise social distancing and consider wearing masks in public.
Our corporate Employee Assistance Program is a resource you can use as well. Contact Human Resources or your supervisor for more information, or review previous communiques we have sent on this matter.
This is an extraordinary time in Canadian and world history. I am proud of the work you are all doing and you should be too. Take a moment to reflect on personal and collective successes. Your contributions are important and appreciated.
Keep well, stay positive.