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Bell says $71M of CEWS money went to media business

Last updated on March 18, 2021

Bell’s chief legal and regulatory officer Robert Malcolmson told members of the House of Commons’ committee on industry Tuesday that $71 million of the $122.8 million in Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy money it received went to Bell Media.

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What’s the deal? Once upon a time, Bell refused to disclose how much it received from the federal wage subsidy program. That’s until this publication — through a combing of lobby records and other sources — reported last week that the company received $122.8 million so far.

A number of Parliamentarians studying telecom affordability and accessibility asked about Bell’s participation in the CEWS program. But it was only until industry committee veteran Nathaniel Erskine-Smith asked about the figure reported by this publication that Malcolmson not only confirmed the number but went further by saying the company allocated $71 million of that money to its media business.

What they said: “I have information in front of me,” Erskine-Smith began his question, “but I really must be reading it incorrectly, so I just want to confirm: BCE received $123 million in the federal wage subsidy — is that right?

“Yes, that’s correct,” Malcolmson said. “And if you look at breakdown of where those funds went, $71 million — give or take — went to Bell Media. As I mentioned Bell Media — that operation was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic…advertising revenues, which Bell Media has depended upon, in that media business plummeted by over 30 per cent just in Q2 2020.”

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