Canada's largest Chinese-language newspaper will stop publishing its print edition next month after more than four decades in operation.
The print edition of Sing Tao Daily, which publishes in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, will end on Aug. 28, putting 83 people out of work.
In a statement, Sing Tao Media Group, which is jointly owned by Hong Kong-based Sing Tao News Corp. and Torstar Corp., said it will focus on being "Canada's leading Chinese news, information and entertainment digital media platform."
CEO Calvin Wong says readers, including seniors, are increasingly comfortable getting their news digitally, a trend that was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw people spend more time at home.
"We found actually that from the senior group of people that about half of them are already very fluent in using a smartphone and tablet," he said. "So in that sense, I don't think we will lose that kind of audience."
The company will continue to publish its magazines, eliteGen and Canadian City Post, with a weekly traditional Chinese lifestyle publication added to the mix.
Carleen Finch, president of Unifor Local 87-M, the union representing 43 of the 83 laid-off Sing Tao workers, says staffers were "completely blindsided" by the move.
"I think to them it was a huge culture shock," she said. "I think that many of them believed that it would eventually happen but they never thought it happen this early."
Finch is concerned the end of the print edition will leave some readers behind.
"I realize the company seems to think that the younger generation are using their phones, but I think there's still a very large generation out there that like to have that tactile feel of a newspaper and want to find out what's going on in their local communities," she said.
Finch says the shuttering of the print edition comes during a challenging time for media.
Bill C-18, which would make tech giants such as Facebook and Google pay for reusing news produced by professional Canadian news organizations, has stalled.
When it announced Bill C-18, the federal government said the legislation would ensure Canadians have access to quality, fact-based news at a time of rising disinformation and public mistrust.
"We have to as Canadians start to support journalism and local media and make sure that we are following through on making our voices heard," Finch said.