Transcontinental cuts 15 jobs as ripple effects of Star Metro closures hit Atlantic Canada media

A TC Transcontinental sign is pictured at the company's annual general meeting in Montreal, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

TC Transcontinental says 15 full-time positions will be slashed as part of an “optimization” of its printing services in Atlantic Canada — a decision prompted in part by a turbulent week in the Canada’s media landscape.

The changes will force at least two papers in Halifax to find a new place to print.

Transcontinental announced on Thursday their plans to reorganize their plant in Halifax and shut down their Borden-Carleton, PEI plant by the end of January, 2020.

Katherine Chartrand, a senior spokesperson for Transcontinental, said the closure will affect 11 employees in PEI and four positions in Halifax.

Chatrand said that over the past few weeks, the company has assessed its operations and found its business in PEI to be “no longer viable.”

She said the Halifax plant will now focus on printing flyers for national retailers that are distributed across Eastern Canada.

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READ MORE: Dozens laid off as TorStar closes StarMetro national free newspaper chain

As for the changes in Halifax, Chatrand said it came as a direct result of the news that TorStar would cease printing the company’s StarMetro papers in Halifax, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto as of Dec. 20.

“For Halifax, the Star Metro was one of the largest newspapers to be printed there. So, of course, we need to adjust our staffing,” she said.

The Toronto Star building is shown in Toronto on June 8, 2016. Torstar Corp. says it had a $17.4 million loss attributable to equity shareholders in the second quarter, as revenue dropped 11 per cent compared with the same time last year and restructuring expenses increased. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima

The shuttering of the StarMetro papers will see 73 layoffs in the editorial, advertising and distribution departments of TorStar across Canada.

The effects of layoffs at the Toronto-based company are now rippling out to affect other local media outlets.

Transcontinental’s decision to re-orient their business has left at least two other print publications scrambling for solutions.

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The Coast, a Halifax-based alternative-weekly, and the Dalhousie Gazette, a student publication at Nova Scotia’s largest university, have confirmed to Global News that their newspapers are published on Transcontinental and will be affected by the changes.

Christine Oreskovich, publisher of the Coast, said they were informed earlier Thursday by Transcontinental that the press used to print their paper would soon stop operating.

They’ve worked with Transcontinental for 26 years.

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Oreskovich said that there are other printing options in the region and that the paper is currently assessing their options.

“We think people still need newspapers. A lot of people need to get free access to news, which we provide and we think it’s important,” she said.

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“It’s just been a sad week for media in Canada as a whole and the TorStar news, this is a ripple effect across the country.”

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Rebecca Dingwell, editor and chief at the Dalhousie Gazette, said they’ve had a contract with Transcontinental for at least a few years.

“Long story short is I know they’re not going to be — for the long run — they’re not going to be printing the [Dalhousie Gazette] anymore,” she said, adding that at this moment she’s not sure whether their final issue of 2019 will go to print next week.

Dingwell added that a break over the Christmas holidays will give her team the chance to regroup and figure out their options.

I suppose the absolute worst-case scenario [is] we would move to online only. But that’s a last resort,” she said.

“I really don’t want that to happen. I think it’s important for that to exist as a print outlet.”

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Global News attempted to reach TorStar representatives for comment but have yet to hear back.

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