Editorial: Let’s Talk About Bell Let’s Talk
On Bell Let’s Talk Day 2022, Patricia Jaggernauth was live on air when she suffered a breakdown while opening up about mental health. Nine months later, she filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Jaggernauth told CBC News that a systemic pattern of racism and sexism allowed her less experienced white colleagues to get job opportunities she would apply for knowing she was overqualified.
“If I’m there for 11 and a half years, I’m more than enough,” Jaggernauth told CBC News in reference to her freelancing work for Bell Media. “I'm always good enough to fill in but never good enough to invest in.”
During her time at Bell Media, Jaggernauth was never given a contract—much less full time employment with benefits and job security. She was only guaranteed two days of work per week but was often asked to fill in for absent hosts; sometimes working several weeks in a row with no days off.
Yet every January, Bell Canada never fails to unroll its advertising campaign for Bell Let’s Talk. This year, their mental health awareness day falls on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
According to their website, Bell Let’s Talk “promotes mental health awareness, acceptance and action built on 4 key pillars: Fighting stigma, improving access to care, supporting world-class research and leading by example in workplace mental health.” Let’s talk about that.
In February 2021, only a few weeks after their annual mental health awareness campaign, Bell Media came under fire for terminating three sports radio stations across the country: Hamilton’s TSN 1150, Vancouver’s TSN 1040 and Winnipeg’s TSN 1290. This was a week after they cut over 200 jobs in Montreal and Toronto newsrooms. Almost worse than the cuts was the way Bell notified their employees of the layoffs.
Staff in Winnipeg’s and Vancouver’s TSN offices were reportedly informed of their stations’ closure at the same time as the network’s listeners with almost identical corporate announcements. In Vancouver, the announcement was given on the air and it was abruptly followed by the song “Good Riddance” by Green Day. Yes, really. You can listen to it here.
Can Bell really boast about “leading by example in workplace mental health” on their website when they lay off employees left and right without proper notice? Vancouver’s TSN employees were told they had 30 minutes to clear personal items from their offices before “security implemented a ‘shutdown process.’” Workplace mental health was clearly not on the Bell Media corporate agenda that day.
To add insult to injury, Bell Media quickly destroyed some of their laid off employees’ archives, leaving them with no portfolio to show to potential employers. What a way to thank your employees, Bell.
2021 was not the only year Bell Media laid off an astronomical number of journalists. Similar layoffs occurred in March 2022, leaving current personnel to wonder if their jobs will be on the line once the corporation stops pretending to care about mental health awareness.
The Link condemns Bell for their performative and hypocritical mental health awareness campaigns. The 60 billion dollar corporation’s consistent mistreatment of employees throughout the years exposes their true values: profit over people.
This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 10, published January 24, 2023.