THE FORMER STAFF STILL NOT PAID - 1/1 pages

Edmonton Sun
Monday October 27, 2003

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Ex-magazine staff still owed

Wondering why ad money isn't going into paycheques

By LORI COOLICAN, EDMONTON SUN

Nearly six months after it folded, some former employees of the magazine once known as Alberta Report say they're still waiting for their final paycheques.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy - the non-profit advocacy group that replaced the magazine - has launched a costly campaign of radio ads against the Canada Pension Plan.

"I'm just surprised that the centre is proceeding forward with these very ambitious efforts when there's still that lingering stuff from the collapse of Citizens Centre Report," said Colby Cosh, who spent eight years on staff at the magazine.

Citizens Centre Report - the final incarnation of Alberta Report - laid off all its employees without notice when it succumbed to financial problems in May.

Cosh, who now does freelance work for the National Post, figures he's owed two years of vacation pay and about eight weeks' severance.

"I don't understand why there's been this silence all summer while people have been struggling to get by. It was a bit startling to see that one chapter had begun without the previous chapter being closed entirely," he said of the radio ads.

"A candid acknowledgement that we're not going to be paid and that we should screw off would be nice, but they've kept us sitting for five months."

Cosh said he's reluctant to seek legal advice, and he still hopes the situation can be resolved.

Kevin Steel, a former senior editor at Citizens Centre Report, says he's owed about $5,000 in severance and holiday pay and is now dealing with the Labour Relations Board.

Steel said Link Byfield, former owner of the magazine and now chairman of the Citizens Centre, didn't seem too concerned about it when he met with him in late August.

"I'm not too pleased," he said.

"It's disheartening."

The magazine's staff were employed by United Western Communications and not by the centre itself, which is a separate entity, Byfield told the Sun yesterday.

"I'm not denying that we owe them money," he said, adding that United Western Communications' bank account is virtually empty. "The amounts are not huge, but they're big enough that people will be concerned about it."

The company hopes to get money back from the federal government in the form of a GST rebate, "which will certainly cover some of it," Byfield said.