The NCA Lockout, Explained

The unprecedented lockout of performers in Canada by the Institute of Canadian Agencies (ICA) has been a critical issue for ACTRA since April 26, 2022.

Problems started on April 26, 2021 during the bargaining meeting to renegotiate the longstanding tripartite National Commercial Agreement (NCA) between ACTRA, the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) and the ICA.

While ACTRA diligently presented equitable proposals, the ICA, under Scott Knox's leadership, introduced a new and audacious proposal allowing them to selectively opt in and opt out of the commercial agreement at their discretion.

What was supposed to be a renegotiation of a mutually advantageous and fair contract morphed into the ICA's endeavor to gut the Agreement, thereby undermining protections ACTRA performers had fought to establish over six decades.

Leading up to this, ACTRA had been working behind the scenes to craft a modernized agreement for easier comprehension and navigation. The original agreement, accumulating various amendments and updates over 60+ years, is now streamlined and user-friendly for all involved parties.

By March 2022, ACTRA members, weary of delays, greenlit a strike to fortify the union's stance while maintaining a commitment to negotiate in good faith at the bargaining table.

Subsequently, the ICA escalated matters. On April 26, 2022, at midnight, they walked away from the bargaining table and locked out performers who had been instrumental in building the brands they represent. The ICA contended that the Agreement had “expired” and was not valid, a stance refuted by the ACA. ACTRA and the ACA renegotiated a one-year renewal of the NCA, effective June 1, 2022 and another renewal in May 2023. These renewals brought with them stability in the commercial industry for advertising agencies to continue to make commercials with ACTRA Performers, while also achieving a commitment by Quebec agencies, Association des Agencies de Communications Creative (A2C) - for the NCA Renewal.

Meanwhile, on May 17, 2022, ACTRA filed an Unfair Labour Practice (ULP) Complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) as a result of the bad faith bargaining of the ICA and its advertising agencies.

    The OLRB decided to bifurcate the merits of the ULP Application in four ways. ACTRA is currently presenting evidence on the status of ACTRA members as employees within the meaning of the Act. Disappointingly, the ICA, ACA and Authorizing Agencies filed their particulars and their position is:
  1. ACTRA is not a trade union within the meaning of the Act;
  2. the NCA is not a collective agreement within the meaning of the Act;
  3. ACTRA members are not employees or dependent contractors within the meaning of the Act;
  4. the Responding Parties are not employers within the meaning of the Act;
  5. the ICA is not an employer's association.

As 2024 started, the ICA and its authorizing advertising agencies legal counsel continued to lead their evidence on the absurd assertion that ACTRA members are not employees or dependent contractors within the meaning of the Act. ACTRA has started to lead evidence to the contrary through experienced members working in the commercial industry, inclusive of NCA negotiating committee members.

The Parties were also successful to conclude an Agreed Statement of Facts on all matters not in dispute to expedite the viva voce evidence.

This legal battle is far from over, and ACTRA is staying the course and not backing down. ACTRA performers deserve respect and to return to work, earning living wages, with benefits and pension contributions and the protections of a collective agreement. More hearing dates are scheduled up until Fall 2024.

Stay tuned for more updates as ACTRA continues this fight. We will continue to make updates available to members as they become available.


ICA/ACA and ACTRA Proposal Comparison
ACTRA Proposal
ICA/ACA Proposal
ACTRA Letter to ICA
Items in Agreement
ACTRA Simplified NCA Proposal