Toronto Star Layoffs: Owner cutting 600 jobs at regional papers

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Nordstar, the parent company of the Toronto Star, announced its intention to file for bankruptcy protection for the unit responsible for more than 70 local newspapers, resulting in the termination of over 600 positions. Nordstar has announced that it will put the Metroland Media Group division into creditor protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, as part of its restructuring plan.

The Metroland Media Group division owns numerous community newspapers distributed alongside advertising flyers. Nordstar has decided to exit the flyer business entirely and transition these newspapers to a digital-only format.

This strategic move will lead to the elimination of 605 jobs, representing approximately 60 percent of the company’s overall workforce.

Metroland said the decision comes from unsustainable financial losses, which have arisen due to shifting consumer and advertiser preferences. “The media industry continues to face existential challenges, largely because digital tech giants have used their dominant positions to take the vast majority of the advertising revenue in Canada,” the company said in a statement. “The decline of the print and flyer distribution business was significantly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and by the reduction of flyer usage both by readers and advertisers as a marketing vehicle.”

News outlets have faced mounting pressure from online giants such as Google and Meta, who have been scooping up advertising dollars. Earlier this year, Ottawa enacted the Online News Act, mandating that digital giants compensate media outlets for distributing or repurposing content on their platforms.

This recent development highlights, once more, how important it is for employees to be aware of their rights and the employer’s obligations following a layoff or without cause termination. More specifically, in those situations, the employer has a legal obligation to provide proper notice or compensation in lieu of notice to the employee being terminated.

Laid Off? What can you expect from your severance package?

Before you accept any severance offer, you should have an experienced employment lawyer review it. A lawyer can tell you if you have been provided with a fair severance package and assist you in making informed decisions about your case. At Labour Rights Law, we can assess the strength of your case and provide an estimation of the compensation to which you might be entitled. Moreover, a lawyer can present you with well-informed options, offering clear guidance on the appropriate steps to take moving forward.

A lawyer will likely ask whether you have a signed employment contract. If you do, the lawyer will request to review it. An employment contract often outlines your entitlements in the event of a without-cause termination, such as layoffs due to restructuring or downsizing.

In some cases, the employment contract may stipulate that you are only entitled to the minimum benefits provided by employment standards legislation, such as the British Columbia Employment Standards Act. The contract may also establish a specific formula for determining the notice period or payment in lieu of notice based on your length of employment with the company.

In the absence of any explicit terms in your employment contract regarding notice periods, you may be entitled to common law reasonable notice. In such cases, the amount of notice owed to you can vary and is typically determined by factors such as your length of service with the company, your age, your position, and your salary, among others.

Depending on specific factors present in your case, you could potentially be owed many months’ worth of pay as compensation in lieu of notice. It is important to consult with an employment lawyer to accurately assess your specific circumstances and determine the appropriate amount of compensation you may be entitled to.

Lastly, don’t sign anything until you talk to an employment lawyer. You can’t trust your employer to tell you what is fair, and the Internet is no substitute for experienced, professional legal advice when it comes to your future. When you’re ready to talk with an employment lawyer, we’d be honoured to meet with you. To make an appointment with one of our employment lawyers for a one-hour consultation, provide us with your contact information and let us know what we can help you with.

Read more: How do I know if a severance package is fair?

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article, and this website generally, is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.  To provide legal advice on your problem, a lawyer must first understand your specific situation.

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