ACTRA will be updating this page regularly with information related to the COVID-19 health crisis as it becomes available. Please check back frequently for updates.
Dear ACTRA Members,
The pandemic has been tough on us all and has magnified the inequalities that exist not just in Canada’s broadcast and production industry but in our communities at large.
When the pandemic first hit, many people, including many of our members, became financially unstable overnight. However, according to Statistics Canada’s January 2021 Labour Force Survey, it was women, low-wage, and racialized workers in precarious employment who were hit hardest.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and now the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) mitigated some of the hardships people faced, but they also shone a light on just how little it actually costs to lift people out of poverty and to give every kind of worker a fighting chance.
So, what’s next?
A modernized Employment Insurance (EI) system, made accessible to the most precarious in our society and our industry, is vital to maintaining vibrant and diverse communities and an arts and entertainment culture that values diversity and understands that our strength lies in the uniqueness of the stories we tell. Read more…
SAFETY ON SET RESOURCES
As conditions on each set or workplace vary, members should contact their ACTRA Branch directly with any questions.
As production resumes across the country, provinces and industry stakeholders are releasing return-to-work health & safety guidelines for the screen-based media production sector:
GOVERNMENT INCOME SUPPORT
Online applications are now open for the following benefits:
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period. If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.
Under this new recovery benefit, individuals continue to earn money, but will be required to repay $0.50 of the CRB for every dollar of net income earned above $38,000 on your income tax return (excluding the amount received for the Canada Recovery Benefit). Click here for more information on how the CRB may impact your taxes and how your income affects what you keep of the CRB.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): this benefit provides $500/week ($450 after taxes withheld) for up to 10 days of paid sick leave to any worker in Canada who falls ill or has to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Individuals may not claim this benefit and another sick leave payment at the same time.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): this benefit provides $500/week ($450 after taxes withheld) to Canadians who must stay home to care for a child under 12 or another dependent because their school, daycare or other day program facility is shut down due to COVID-19. Individuals who choose to keep their children home even though the facility is open will not qualify unless they provide proof there is a medical reason to do so such as an immunodeficiency disorder.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): even though the CERB has ended, you can apply for a period retroactively. The CRA will continue to accept and process retroactive applications until December 2, 2020, for periods 5 to 7 either through your CRA My Account or by phone (1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041)). For retroactive applications for periods 1 to 4, you must call (1-800-232-1966) the CRA and speak to an agent.
TAKE ACTION: STOP the unjust CERB clawback
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) began issuing letters in late 2020 to recipients informing them they may or may not have been eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) repayment they received.
The government was clear when the CERB was introduced: those who needed help should apply without fear of repercussion. The House of Commons unanimously passed a motion in support of not penalizing people who applied in good faith.
The pandemic is not over, and many Canadians are still struggling, including many who applied for the CERB in a time of desperate need.
When the CERB was rolled out last spring, the government said eligibility would be based an individual having employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application. To retroactively change eligibility rules now for some of the most vulnerable Canadians is unjust.
This is why we are calling on the Government of Canada to adhere to its original eligibility requirements, which allowed self-employed Canadians to use their gross pre-tax income when determining their CERB eligibility.
Click here to take action now.
HEALTH & SAFETY SURVEY REPORT
This spring, ACTRA Members were asked to complete an anonymous survey created by ACTRA to assist in our understanding of our Members’ health and safety concerns about returning to work once our screen-based industry reopens.
ACTRA created a Health & Safety Survey Report, which outlines the measures our members feel would reinforce their sense of safety in the workplace, including when auditioning, on set, in studio or in scenes with physical contact.
The data obtained in this report will allow ACTRA to share the key health and safety concerns of our membership with government and industry stakeholders as work opportunities return within our industry.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, ACTRA remains at work servicing the needs of our members across the country. ACTRA staff are working remotely and continue to respond to phone calls or E-mails from members to support them through this difficult time.
ACTRA remains at work servicing the needs of our members across the country and staff can be reached through their E-mail, voicemail or our general inquiry line at 416-489-1311 or E-mail at email@example.com.
Our various agreements contain language as it applies to the cancellation of work or rescheduling of days. If you have had work cancelled during this time, we ask that you contact your local ACTRA branch so we may address each situation on a case-by-case basis, per the terms of the appropriate agreement.
Production is slowly reopening across Canada with strict health and safety measures in place. For a list of what’s currently in production, please contact your ACTRA Branch or visit your Branch’s What’s shooting page.
Given the current situation, ACTRA requires all productions create and abide by a Health & Safety protocol that meets or exceeds the standards of the Branch’s Best Practices Guideline and/or any provincially mandated requirements. These standards are meant to ensure the health and safety of every person in all work environments, be it at an audition, on set or in studio. When working, feel free to verify these standards are being maintained and if you have any concerns, contact your Business Rep immediately. And remember – at no time are you expected to continue working in an environment if you feel your health and safety are at risk! Click here to download a copy of ACTRA’s advisory.
No one can anticipate how they might feel while living and attempting to work during a global pandemic. Anxiety over health concerns is real. Immediate counselling and support is available through HAVEN Helpline.
While working, productions are responsible for ensuring a safe work environment. If you have any concerns about your safety and the work conditions on set, safety concerns should first be reported to the Production:
- If your concerns are related to COVID-19, there will be a designated person responsible for enforcing the production’s COVID-19 health and safety policy. Check the call sheet for their contact information.
- If your issue concerns an intimate scene, assistance may be available from the intimacy coordinator if one has been engaged by the production.
- If this is an emergency, you have the right to refuse unsafe work. Provincial workplace health and safety legislation gives workers the right to refuse work they believe is unsafe to themselves or others. Workers who believe they are endangered by workplace violence may also refuse work. Please see your provincial workplace health and safety guidelines for the specific procedures to follow to establish a work refusal.
- You can also contact your ACTRA Branch or call HAVEN Helpline (1-855-201-7823) for assistance.
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period. Click here for full eligibility requirements.
Canada Media Fund (Assistance Programs Directory)
Canada Performers (National Arts Centre)
Canadian Artist + Musician Relief Fund
COVID-19 Black Emergency Support Fund
Emergency Survival Fund for LGBTQ2S artists, performers, tip-based workers and Glad Day
Inside Out’s RE:Focus Fund
Health & Wellness Resources
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Calltime Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association
Depression and the pandemic – a deep dive
Ending Violence Association of Canada
How to wear a non-medical mask or face covering properly
Wellness Together Canada
Canada Council for the Arts
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre – COVID-19 Fraud
Canadian Labour Congress
Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC)
National Film Board of Canada (Education Resources)
Telefilm Canada (Event Updates and Industry Resources)
Toronto & York Region Labour Council
ACTRA BRANCH COVID-19 UPDATES