CCCB to outsource publishing division, trim staff
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA (CCN) — The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will outsource its in-house publishing division and cut the position of secretary to the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace.
“For many years the bishops have been grappling with finances,” he
said. “The dioceses cannot afford to pay the amount of money required
to keep the conference running.”
The per capita rate charged each diocese based on census data of baptized
Catholics has remained unchanged this year, but some poorer dioceses
are having trouble meeting their assessment, he said.
Powers said he has met with CCCB employees to explain the
fact the conference does not have unrestricted funds and must rein in
the bank will close our doors.”
“It’s always so difficult to see people lose their jobs,” he
said. “The bishops don’t take that lightly.”
But financial belt-tightening is also a reality, he said,
can hardly pick up a newspaper” without seeing evidence other corporations
and organizations are being forced to make similar hard choices.
“The bishops have voted to eliminate the publications service as
we know it,” said Powers. “We don’t have the funds
to keep it technically up to date.”
Details of the outsourcing will be revealed later next
month after the arrangements are finalized, he said, noting eight to
10 jobs could be affected. The bishops took five years to make this decision
and feel badly about those who will lose their jobs, Powers said. “But
the bishops had no choice.”
The bishops have been studying the issue of CCCB Publications
for 15 years, Powers said, noting they made the decision to outsource
and he is following their instructions. The key, however, was finding
a reputable North American company with a reputation for treating its
employees well, he said. “It is a communications firm we have dealt with in the
past,” he said.
The position occupied by Francois Poitras, the senior adviser for social
justice, has also been eliminated, said Powers. Among his duties, Poitras
occupied the position of secretary to the Justice and Peace Commission.
“This is no reflection on his work as a theologian,” Powers
said. “We’re grateful for the work he’s done.”
The role of secretary to the Justice and Peace Commission was never a
full-time responsibility, as Poitras and other advisers on the CCCB staff
perform many other duties as well, Powers said.
There will be no difference in the service on the Justice
and Peace file, he stressed, despite the position’s elimination. “It
will just be done a different way.”
Some of the position’s duties had already been transferred
to the Standing Committee for Development and Peace, he said. The role
also involved co-ordinating work with the Canadian Council of Churches
(CCC) and KAIROS, but the CCCB executive have taken on those duties directly.
Justice and Peace Commission chair Saint-Hyacinthe Bishop Francois Lapierre
was also consulted, he said.
Executive director of Citizens for Public Justice Joe Gunn
expressed disappointment with the decision to make Poitras’ position redundant. “I
feel quite sorry for the four bishops on the Commission for Justice and
Peace,” the former CCCB social affairs director said. “These
are four good men trying to do a big job.”
“I hope the bishops get the help they need to fulfil their mandate,” he
Gunn, who worked for the CCCB from 1994 to 2005, said there
were four people in his office when he started “and we were always
“The work isn’t just sitting in front of a computer, it’s
getting out into the community, it’s working side by side with
people,” he said.
Powers, who began his term as general secretary about two-and-a-half
years ago, said many aspects of the CCCB secretariat’s operation
needed updating, especially its technological infrastructure. It cost
about a quarter of a million dollars to upgrade the computer and communications
systems, he said.
The new needs of the conference require people with increased technological
abilities, he said. More technology may mean fewer bodies, but those
remaining must have a higher level of expertise.
The conference is presently looking at someone who can manage the data base, he said. They also hope to have a “paperless” plenary next year and are making greater use of video conferencing technology to cut travel expenses for meetings.