Have you heard about AlertReady, Canada’s new Emergency Alert System?

Starting tomorrow, March 31, CBC/Radio-Canada − together with all radio and television broadcasters across the country − will participate in AlertReady, the new, national public alerting system. The system is designed to warn Canadians about imminent, life-threatening situations (things like tornados, floods, biohazards and landslides) in their region.


While participation in AlertReady is now one of our conditions of CRTC license, we view it as part of the public service we are proud to offer Canadians. Our viewers and listeners already count on us to keep them advised of breaking news, and we are better positioned than most of the other broadcasters because we are so entrenched in the regions.

Many organizations are also involved in making the system run smoothly. Typically, Environment Canada or a provincial Emergency Measurement Organization would issue geographically specific alerts to multi-media company Pelmorex, which would then disperse the alerts to the various media distributors, of which CBC/Radio-Canada is one.

For an alert to be broadcast − and to cut into regularly scheduled programming – the situation must be

  • considered urgent, where time is of the essence to inform the public of imminent danger
  • considered severe or extreme, meaning there is danger to life
  • probable, meaning the danger is very likely or has been observed.

We will be airing a series of Public Service Announcements to inform Canadians about what they can expect from this new alerting system. Take a look!

For more information, go to this page.

Marie-Eve Desaulniers, Senior Advisor, Brand, Communications and Corporate Affairs


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Change: the one constant in the media industry

The entire media industry is in the throes of a fundamental transformation. That kind of change can be hard on a human level.

Yesterday we moved forward with some sweeping changes to our local services as well as to Radio-Canada’s music service, ICI Musique.

The local changes, in particular, represent a big shift – new services, new positions, more digital, news throughout the day. These are all changes that will help us serve and be relevant to Canadians today and tomorrow. But along with the good comes reductions in the number of employees we will have going forward. People’s lives are affected. Mostly in the regions this time. And that’s heartbreaking.

Our new structure rebalances our personnel across the country to ensure that each region receives a base level of service and, beyond that, our offer is adapted to the needs and usage of each community. CBC Vancouver remains our largest local service, Alberta will be a zone of digital innovation, ICI Acadie will move into a new facility in Moncton with up-to-date multimedia technology and modern workspace.

What we did yesterday speaks directly to our future direction. We are creating new positions, training staff for new skills and signalling a move to continuous local news: mobile-first.

We are not abandoning our traditional local service. Local radio schedules are unchanged. There will continue to be local television news in the evening but in a different format.

We will be more local, at less cost. And that’s crucial. Regions have been and remain an essential priority. If we want to truly serve Canadian communities, we need to do it in a way that is sustainable over the long-term. The local plan reduces the cost of our service and starts to reshape it for how media is being, and will be, consumed in the future.

Today, the changes are mostly just painful, as some talented, dedicated people start the process of moving on to new challenges.

This kind of change is hard. Almost every broadcaster in the world is experiencing it, in one way or another. Change will be the one constant in the media industry for the foreseeable future.

- Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO, CBC/Radio-Canada

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“Science is for everyone.” An interview with Julie Payette, Découverte’s latest reporter

JulieOn March 15, 2015, the program Découverte aired the first in a series of popular science reports featuring Julie Payette, who has been CEO of the Montreal Science Centre since 2013.

Payette’s brilliant career has taken her on two space shuttle missions, in 1999 and 2009. I wanted to learn more about Découverte’s new reporter and what led her to focus on making science accessible to the masses. She was kind enough to grant me a telephone interview.

The Montreal Science Centre first opened in 2000, and today 750,000 people visit each year. “The Centre is interested in the science that’s part of all our lives – not the kind you learn in detail at university, but the kind you discover for the fun of it,” explains Payette.

Découverte and the Montreal Science Centre have a common goal: to inform people. “We may do it differently – Découverte shows reports, the Science Centre shows exhibits – but we share the same goal to develop people’s scientific literacy.”

But why foster the general public’s scientific literacy, especially since we live in an era where we have a phenomenal amount of information at our fingertips? To that, Payette replies that “any knowledge society must enhance its wealth of knowledge in all fields if it is to continue moving forward. Knowledge societies need their scientific literacy institutions, which include science centres and popular science TV programming.”

Payette insists that you don’t need a university education to be aware of the basic concepts of science. “If you fill a Mason jar right to the top with spaghetti sauce and put it in the freezer, it will explode. It’s a basic law of physics: liquids expand in volume when they become solids.” The Science Centre has posted videos on its website to show people how to conduct some pretty crazy experiments at home (see ScienceXpress clips – in French only).

When you learn about science, you also develop your critical thinking skills – you ask questions, make assumptions, and test things out. “Critical thinking is crucial if you want to make the right decisions and exercise good judgment over what people say to you – for instance, so you can sort through everything you hear about climate change,” adds Payette.

What does the CEO of the Montreal Science Centre do when she’s not making science more accessible? She confided that, like all parents, her motherly duties keep her very busy, but she also really enjoys a game of logic once in a while, but this time to unwind.

- Jacinthe Lacombe-Cliche, Senior Writer, Corporate Communications

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The weather is their business

To mark World Meteorological Day (March 23), I asked a few CBC/Radio-Canada meteorologists and reporters to tell me what recent weather phenomenon had left the biggest impression on them. Here’s what they had to say.

christyChristy Climenhaga, CBC North

Although forecasting in the North has exposed me to most weather extremes imaginable, one storm stands out against the rest. This would be the apocalyptic thunderstorm in Yellowknife on July 30, 2014.

This thunderstorm occurred during the worst forest fire season that the N.W.T. had seen in 30 years. Yellowknife was blanketed in smoke for months, and the combination of the smoky weather and the strong thunderstorm rolling through was incredible! At 5:30 p.m.,the sky over Yellowknife was bright orange, with all the smoke particles in the atmosphere. Soon after that, it was pitch black outside (as dark as a winter night, even though the sun was still up). The thunderstorm itself only had downpours (no hail or damaging winds) but the combination of the smoke and thick clouds made it look like a tornadic thunderstorm from Kansas! After the storm rolled through the sun was back out and the sky was an amazing shade of red. It was definitely a storm that will be hard to forget!

pascalPascal Yiacouvakis, ICI Grand Montréal and 10 p.m. Téléjournal

The year 2014 was the hottest on record worldwide – including in Alaska. And the remarkable thing is that the unusually warm weather experienced in Alaska and on the Pacific Coast has had an impact on Eastern Canada. A changing jet stream pattern (trough in the East) created colder-than-normal conditions over most of the eastern half of the country during winter 2013-2014, as well as in January and February of this year.

William Bourque, ICI Acadie

For me, it would have to be the snowstorm in late January / early February 1992, which lasted for three days non-stop and dumped 162 cm of snow on Moncton in its wake.

A close second would be this winter, with its frequent storms and blizzards, and the persistent frigid temperatures that accompanied them. Because there were never any mild spells, you can see massive snowbanks everywhere – something unheard of for Moncton as far I can remember, especially in early spring.

ChantalChantal Plouffe, ICI Ottawa-Gatineau

A number of weather situations come to mind – such as the microburst that descended on the Val-des-Bois campground in July 2011. Then there was the freak windstorm that toppled the stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest. The eyewitness accounts of that giant gust of wind and the multiple thunderstorms that day were pretty compelling.

Another event that stood out for me was surely the torrential downpour that caused flooding in the Outaouais region on June 23 and 24, 2011. The Gatineau hills received over 250 mm of rain in under 24 hours – twice the average monthly rainfall for June. It set an all-time record!

To this day, I still have viewers come up and talk to me about that weather phenomenon. Sometimes it’s people who were directly affected by it. At others, it’s people who were stunned by the dramatic footage we aired at the time and the interviews with residents coping with the aftermath of the flood.


Do you have any memorable weather stories of your own to share? Please let us know!

- Jacinthe Lacombe-Cliche, Senior Writer, Corporate Communications

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CBC Future 40 offers aboriginal leaders a spotlight on success

Kendal NetmakerKendal Netmaker is the founder of Neechie Gear, an aboriginal-based clothing company in Saskatchewan. He has won several entrepreneurial awards and is an invited speaker at leadership conferences the world over. Netmaker is a past Future 40 winner, and a jury member this year.


Being an aboriginal role model is a big responsibility.

I try to show mainstream society that First Nations people do have great potential to be great leaders. All it takes is the will to understand one another and do everything we can to work together to make our world a better place.

CBC Future 40 can be a big part of that.future40

I was shortlisted in 2013 with an amazing group of 40 young Saskatchewan change-makers. The publicity of the event and having a platform to share our story was valuable to me because my personal and business brand was forming the foundation for future success in Canada.

It allowed my story to be told in the same place as other young aboriginal Future 40 nominees such as Michael Linklater, Simon Bird, Kevin Seesequasis, Erica Lee and Tala Tootoosis.

As CBC Future 40 continues to highlight people who come from all parts of the globe, it shows that this province has the tools and the right people to make amazing things happen. I always tell people that there are great people in this province to learn from and they can influence you as mentor or a role model.

We need things like Future 40 because it encourages and builds a culture of success among everyone — including aboriginal people — in Saskatchewan.

And a word of advice for anyone taking risks and trying to do something great: When you find yourself in a rut or bad place, think of the leaders who are recognized as CBC Future 40 nominees, and what they had to do to achieve their goals.

Nothing is impossible once you start seeing amazing people with ambitious goals achieving them.

At the end of the day, the only person who will stop you from achieving success is yourself. The only people who will influence you are the people who you hang around with. Who do you want to be?

Nominate someone now at cbc.ca/future40.

-Kendal Netmaker, Entrepreneur and Past Future 40 winner

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Inside #HackingCBCMTL

hackathon1It was my first hackathon. I imagined myself stepping into a darkened room, a dim glow of computer screens lighting the way to the coffee machine. Fingers dancing across keyboards, creative minds coming together to shape the future of public broadcasting.

I wasn’t entirely wrong, but what follows is a more accurate account.

The challenge: Design a way for CBC to be more open, interactive and accessible. Basically, revolutionize how CBC delivers the news. In 48 hours.

The hackers: Web developers, designers and non-technical folks – all members of the public – that met and coalesced into 8 teams.

The experts: The hack-teams had help fine-tuning their solutions. CBC Montreal journalists were on hand to share insight about news gathering and identify deficiencies in the current process. Event partners from International Startup Festival, Notman House and Open North also shared advice throughout the weekend.

The fuel: Besides passion, drive and an ability to function with little to no sleep, hackers would appear to survive on the 3 C’s : Candy, cookies and caffeine.

The mood: I arrived a day into the marathon. It was quiet, even eerily so at times, as the teams worked the day steadily away. But while the sequestered judges determined their fate, the room burst into discussion, the team finally able to talk freely about their ideas.

The winners: The creators of CBC Comm-unity took top prize. They pitched a news app with a Tinder-style feed, allowing readers to tell journalists what stories they want to see covered, and then generate a personalized news feed.

By final pitch time, most teams had prototypes in various levels of working order. The hackers showed up early, they stayed late. In two days, they did things with data I’d never have thought possible. I realized it’s not just about the competition, and for CBC/Radio-Canada, it’s not a quick win. But whether the prototypes are developed to completion or not, the event in itself embodies what A space for us all sets out to be. Its people sharing what they want their public broadcaster to be – and helping build it. And we’ll keep listening. Use the comments section to tell us how CBC/Radio-Canada can connect with you better.

Special thanks to the people at CBC Montreal for letting me crash their party.

Check out CBC Montreal’s coverage for more info about the event. #HackingCBCMTL: What is a hackathon?

-Emma Bédard, Advisor, Strategic communications

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​Google Earth is saving transmission engineers time and words

The Transmission Engineering team has found a way to do things better using Google Earth. The team uses specialized software to do coverage calculations, field strength measurements, and safety code 6 compliance measurements but they export their data to Google Earth for analysis. Use of Google Earth is simple and straightforward, but as senior spectrum engineer Charles Rousseau notes “the impact of using the tool is significant – making the team more efficient and greatly clarifying the presentation of data.”

Coverage analysis, for example, is easier with Google Earth because the data can be overlaid onto an actual photo of the area. This allows transmission engineers to quickly see the areas touched by any changes to station parameters. Google Earth also provides information not available in mapping software, such as a view of obstacles like mountains and forests or even high-rise buildings in a downtown core.

Prior to using Google Earth, coverage data was exported to specialized, professional mapping software. The professional mapping software is expensive and complicated. It displays the data on a map, but does not provide the image information or ease-of-use that Google Earth offers.

A Google Earth file can be attached to Engineering Reports to allow clients and management to see and understand the transmission team’s recommendations. Even someone with little technical knowledge can understand the data presented in Google Earth. Having a client take a quick look at a Google Earth file can save transmission engineers from having to write detailed explanations in reports. As Rousseau says, the savings with Google Earth is in “time and words.”

- Melanie Miles, Writer/Editor, Corporate Communications


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Fingers of Fury: How one writer learned to love the livetweet

Denis McGrath is a screenwriter, playwright & producer originally from New York City, Denis McGrath’s writing has taken him from Vancouver to St. John’s and from L.A. to Cape Town. He’s written drama, comedy, docs, animation and videogames, and hopes one day to write exclusively for cell phones. Recent TV credits include X CompanyContinuumBitten and Less Than Kind. 


It was so easy in the age of the laserdisc. Put it on, fire up the mike, grab a cocktail and start talking.

I missed the heyday of the disc commentary. At a certain point all the good stories were told, and the experience of listening to a heavily accented action star lapse into silence as they watched their younger, buffer self became a bit depressing. But as a TV writer in 2015, I am frequently asked to participate in the sped-up evolution of this ritual: the on-air live-tweet.

It’s harder than it looks.

I believe creatives – artists, directors, writers – get their say with the finished work.  Reaction is supposed to be the audience’s turn.  But there’s a certain cohort that wants connection to the people who made the show, and if it helps to get more people watch live, it’s fine.  And I like attention. I have an ego. But the dark side is never very far away.

If there’s five hundred people saying nice things and one jerk playing comic-book-guy from The Simpsons, it takes a lot to not focus on that one negative voice.  Deep down, writers and actors are deeply masochistic.

So. I’ve worked out a few rules for the professional live-tweet.

1) Remember they mostly want to talk to actors.  If you can throw a good joke or offbeat praise an actor’s way; give them something to retweet…take the win.

2) Trivia is good. Justifying the choices you’ve made is not. Let the work stand whenever you can.

3) Don’t feed the trolls. Certain twisted folk derive validation from being nasty in a way they would never dare in person. Judge them or mute them. Most are blowhards, but some are actually deeply troubled people.

4) Fans will ship. Do not get drawn in. Profess to know nothing.

5) Do enjoy the slight torture you’re inflicting by refusing to divulge spoilers.

6) If you can poke gentle fun at what’s on screen, do. It’s a meme world. Go with it.

7) Throw praise where you can. Call attention to an Actor, Director, or designer’s standout work. If the crew busted their butts to make a shot, say so.

8) In the end remember: it’s only Twitter. In an hour, people will be back to posting pictures of their salads and burritos.

9) Show your fans love.

10) Never explain how time travel works.

-Denis McGrath,Writer and Co-Executive Producer on XCompany

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CBC Manitoba celebrates a new generation of leaders

top 40

CBC Manitoba is celebrating the province’s new generation of leaders, builders and change-makers under the age of 40. We are taking this opportunity to activity celebrate people who are making Manitoba a better place today, and into the future. We’re calling our project CBC Manitoba Future 40 and it’s modeled after CBC Saskatchewan’s own very successful Future 40 initiative. And we’re looking for 40 people under 40 who are making this province the best that it can be.

We’re looking people from across many sectors. Arts, business, community leadership, politics. No matter where or what they are doing, we are looking for the best and brightest. And what’s so exciting about Future 40 is seeing the stories of all the people that are doing such exciting and purposeful things, right here in Manitoba. There is a scientist working on a cure for cancer. An advocate who works with immigrant and newcomer populations. An artist and TEDX speaker. People raising awareness about and funds for social injustice. Or animal welfare. And on and on.

So, do you know someone making Manitoba a better place? Tell us. We want to know all about it. The nomination period is open until March 12.

- Gabriela Klimes, Regional Manager, English Communications Marketing & Brand

top 40 - 2









CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 nominees range from entrepreneurs to leaders to volunteers.

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Dreaming of being a bird

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to soar in the skies? Sandra Rolfe, who has been working in Human Resources at CBC/Radio-Canada since 2005, knows! In the early 1990s, she bought a hot air balloon and never looked back. With great passion, she told me that ballooning is really “free flight” – you navigate the winds and go where they take you.

Breaking records and breaking down the barriers
Sandra has broken many records. – In hot air ballooning, the records are for distance, altitude and duration in each size of hot air balloon, which is classified by the volume of the envelope. “There were no records set in Canada by female balloonists – I thought this was a tragedy – so I set out to change that situation. In the process, I set Canadian records both in the female category and in the general category – which means I surpassed the performance of the male balloonists too!”

She has a total of 47 records in Canada, plus two world records, 13 pending Canadian records, and one pending world record. Quite a feat!

Setting a new record is a team effort – she is not alone up there
Preparations for a flight begin months ahead of time. Sandra and her ballooning partner Bill Whelan, who is also project manager and chief of equipment, discuss what records to challenge and what set-ups to try, and then make sure that they have all the equipment on standby. “There is also a full crew, and observers who follow us. We can only finalize our plans once we have the right weather conditions. There have been times when we have had to cancel a record attempt because we did not have enough crew available. Everyone is a volunteer.”

Ballooning can be challenging, both mentally and physically. The physical part is the setting up and taking down of the equipment, as well as the stamina required. The mental part is the flying – being alert to the conditions at all times and managing the flight over time. There is no taking a break by pulling over to the side of the road – you have to manage the flight to a safe landing before you get a break of any kind. After comes relaxation, as well as the sense of accomplishment.

Today is International Women’s Day. Sandra, like many others, is one of those extraordinary and exceptional women who work with us, and who inspire us with their determination and their passion. Thank you to all of you!

- Hélène Breau-Cluney, Communications Officer, Corporate Communications

Did you know?

  • Listen to Sandra’s interview on CBC Radio about her last attempt to break a flight record.  
  • To get a pilot’s licence for a hot air balloon, you need to take a minimum of 16 hours of instruction with an instructor, attend a ground school course, write two exams, and pass a medical.
  • It is very difficult to get a weather forecast the way we need it for ballooning. The regular forecast provides the weather on the ground, while the aviation forecast provides the weather at high levels; balloonists need something more mid-level.
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