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A message from ACTRA National President David Sparrow

March 2020

Dear ACTRA members,

In this challenging and unprecedented time, it is important that our ACTRA family takes care of each other. ACTRA members are some of the most thoughtful, compassionate and creative people I know. We will get through this. So please take care of yourselves and your families and stay healthy.

As you know, most productions and events have been impacted by COVID-19. The situation is changing every day… every hour. I want you to know that the elected leaders of our national and local councils are working hard on behalf every member. We have been talking to Government leaders daily, requesting their support and advocacy for our self-employed members.

Our staff have been working tirelessly to ensure the operations of our union stay supported. They have transitioned to working from home, but are still seeing that payments owed to our performers are being distributed, even as they take care of their own families. They are answering member concerns as quickly as possible and providing us all with information as up to date as possible.

As professional performers, we want to know what our future holds. So, let’s ask… I encourage you to call and email your Member of Parliament to inquire about the timing for Emergency Care and Emergency Support Benefits for people working in the entertainment industry. Let them know how important these payments will be to precarious artists in the gig economy. Let them know that we require those payments soon, to pay for rent and food and medications.

Together, we will get through this tough time. Keep visiting actra.ca and view the new webpage dedicated to the COVID-19 crisis. It will be updated regularly. I also encourage you to monitor the guidelines and protocols put forth by Canada’s public health officials. Collectively, we must take the steps necessary to protect each other and to put a stop to the outbreak.

Keep following (and tagging @actranat!) on our ACTRA social media platforms. We appreciate your updates, encouragement and support.

Do all you can to take care of yourself and those around you.

In solidarity,

David Sparrow
President
@davesparrow14

COVID-19 update from ACTRA National

As Canadians prepare for the possibility of increased exposure to COVID-19, ACTRA National is ensuring the health and safety of all persons, including our staff and members, by asking ACTRA National staff to work remotely and temporarily closing our office. This is effective immediately and will be in place until further notice. This includes our operations in ACTRA Performers’ Rights Society (PRS).

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 enquiry line at 416-489-1311 or e-mail at actra@actra.ca.

To our members, our priority is to ensure everyone is safe at work, and our staff continue to advocate on your behalf and collect the payments to which you are entitled. We appreciate these are challenging times and your union is here to support and assist you.

We encourage everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials as well as review these tips for coping with COVID-19.

Thank you for your understanding.

Please take care of yourselves and each other.

ACTRA National

Canadian Heritage urged to support entertainment workers impacted by COVID-19

Entertainment unions and guilds CWA Canada, IATSE, ACTRA, CFM, Equity and DGC are calling on the federal government to extend income support for those not eligible for EI sickness benefits, including the many workers in our sector who are not classified as employees. The following letter was just sent to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism.

March 13, 2020

The Honourable Steven Guileault
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

Minister Guilbeault,

RE: COVID-19 Response Package – Call to extend income support for those not eligible for EI sickness benefits

Earlier this week, a coalition of creative industry unions and guilds wrote to your Cabinet colleagues, Ministers Hadju and Qualtrough, on behalf of workers in Canada’s entertainment industry who would be left out of the Employment Insurance (EI) supports announced as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response package. As the Minister of Heritage, we are asking for your assistance in advocating for our members on this issue.

As you know, many in our industry are not classified as employees, and therefore are not eligible for EI benefits for any loss of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While we are pleased that Government has indicated it is exploring additional measures to support other affected Canadians, we are concerned the Government may forget the importance of our industry and the need to also protect the workers who rely on it for their income.

We are already seeing cancellations of screen-based productions and live performances with more anticipated. Workers who are signed to productions rely on those contracts, which can range from several days to several months. The loss of that expected income will be devastating to these precarious workers. Production insurance is not covering cancellations related to COVID-19.

This industry is just one of many where workers are often not defined as employees under the Canada Labour Code. Your Government has often stated it intends to find ways to improve conditions for people who work in the ‘gig economy.’ Extending the $1 billion package for COVID-19 to cover all workers would be a tangible demonstration of that commitment.

Sincerely,

David Sparrow
President
ACTRA National

Arden R. Ryshpan
Executive Director
Canadian Actors’ Equity Association

Alan Willaert
Vice-President
Canadian Federation of Musicians

Martin O’Hanlon
President
CWA Canada

David Forget
National Executive Director
DGC

John Lewis
Vice President, Canadian Region
IATSE

Tips for coping with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak

As we hear more about the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it’s important for you to know the facts and understand what you can do to protect yourself.

You can find updates and detailed information on symptoms, prevention, and spread of the virus on the following websites:
Public Health Agency of Canada
World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health

Your safety is important to ACTRA, and we are working with productions and our industry partners to ensure you have a safe and healthy work environment.

As this is a dynamic and evolving situation, ACTRA will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 events and will update members as necessary.

Public Health Agency of Canada advises, now and always during cold and flu season, stay home if you are sick. If possible, encourage those you know are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms.

Since respiratory viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, are spread through contact, change your regular greeting. Instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug, a friendly wave or elbow bump is less likely to expose you to respiratory viruses.

Practice frequent hand hygiene and coughing/sneezing etiquette. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

Morneau Shepell has also developed a 10-minute free bilingual webinar: Coronavirus (COVID-19) that provides information on the virus symptoms, spread, and prevention. This webinar is open to everyone – workplace leaders, employees, and general public.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:
Public Health Agency of Canada
1-833-784-4397
canada.ca/coronavirus
phac.info.aspc@canada.ca

Below you will also find downloadable fact sheets you can print out for reference:
   

Ottawa urged to support entertainment workers impacted by COVID-19

Entertainment unions CWA Canada, IATSE, ACTRA and DGC are calling on the federal government to extend EI supports to all workers impacted by the pandemic, including the many workers in our sector who are not classified as employees. The following letter was just sent to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Inclusion, Disability Inclusion.

March 12, 2020

The Honourable Patty Hadju
Minister of Health

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Employment, Workforce Inclusion, Disability Inclusion

RE: COVID-19 RESPONSE PACKAGE – CALL TO EXTEND IT TO ALL WORKERS

Dear Ministers:

We are writing on behalf of workers in the entertainment industry who would be left out of the EI supports announced today as part of the COVID-19 response package.

Many in our industry are not classified as employees, and therefore not eligible for EI for any loss of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While we are pleased that you indicate income support for those workers will be ‘explored’, we urge you to take precise action in the coming days.

There have already been some cancellations of television productions and there are expected to be more. Production insurance is not covering cancellations related to COVID-19.

Workers who are signed to those shows rely on those contracts which can range from several days to several months.  The loss of that expected income would be devastating for many.

This industry is just one of many where workers are not defined as employees under the Canada Labour Code.  Your government has often stated that it intends to find ways to improve conditions for people who work in the ‘gig economy’.  Extending the $1 billion package for COVID-19 to cover all workers would be a tangible demonstration of that commitment.

Sincerely,

Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA Canada; on behalf of the Fairness in Factual TV Campaign

John Lewis
Vice President, Canadian Region, IATSE

David Sparrow
President, ACTRA National

David Forget
National Executive Director, DGC

 

ACTRA names Sarah Polley 2020 Woman of the Year

Honour bestowed annually in celebration of International Women’s Day

Toronto, ON (March 4, 2020) — Canadian performers are shining a spotlight on ACTRA member Sarah Polley by naming her their 2020 ACTRA National Woman of the Year. ACTRA bestows this honour annually on an ACTRA member who excels in both her artistic and advocacy achievements.

“Sarah Polley has made a real difference in the way performers and artists are treated and respected in this country,” said ACTRA President David Sparrow. “From her continued support and activism for everyone in our entertainment industry, to inspiring us throughout her successful career as a performer, writer, director and producer, we’re thrilled to name Sarah our 2020 ACTRA National Woman of the Year.”

“I’ve been a proud ACTRA member since I was a child,” said Sarah Polley. “It’s been inspiring to watch ACTRA evolve and grow since that time to become a strong, progressive union. I am thrilled to receive this honour from fellow ACTRA members.”

Sarah Polley’s long and distinguished career has encompassed numerous roles on screen and behind the camera. Sarah is an award-winning performer, writer, director and producer whose dramatic features include Away from HerTake This Waltz, and Stories We Tell. Sarah’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace for Netflix and CBC, which she executive produced, garnered six Canadian Screen Award wins including Best Screenplay, Director, Actress and Limited Series. Sarah recently co-directed the popular CBC Gem series, Hey Lady!, which debuted at Sundance.

As a leading voice promoting ACTRA’s campaign to increase Canadian entertainment content, Sarah has participated in ACTRA’s federal election press conferences and government lobbying efforts. Sarah has shared her personal experiences as a child star when speaking in support of children who work in the entertainment business. In 1996, Sarah supported our union’s bargaining team in achieving significant improvements for minors within ACTRA’s Independent Production Agreement, which covers film, television and digital media production across Canada (except British Columbia). In 2008, Sarah was honoured with the ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence.

Since 2010, ACTRA bestows the National Woman of the Year Award each year on an ACTRA member who uses her passion to support ACTRA members and women within the broader audiovisual industry. For a list of past recipients, please visit actra.ca.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 25,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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Media Contact:
Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer, ACTRA National, tel: 416-644-1519, ctaverner@actra.ca

 *Photo available upon request

Act now to preserve Canadian storytelling

TORONTO, ON (January 29, 2020) — ACTRA welcomes the long-awaited release of the Broadcasting and Legislative Review Panel’s final report as part of the process of adapting Canada’s broadcasting legislation to the digital economy.

“Our goal is to create updated legislation inclusive of all players in the Canadian broadcast landscape,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “Congratulations to the Panel for its hard work reviewing thousands of submissions from interested parties across the country and bringing forward its recommendations. We fully agree with the Chair that the single most important message to convey on behalf of Canadians is one of urgency.”

In its submission to the Panel, ACTRA made several key recommendations, including:

  • Amending the Broadcasting Act so it applies to all programming content provided to Canadians, regardless of the services and technologies used to produce the content or to make it available.
  • Requiring all players in the Canadian market – traditional broadcasters, OTT and music streaming services, Internet Service Providers and Wireless Service Providers – to contribute to the creation of Canadian content.
  • Providing the CRTC with the tools needed to regulate all Canadian and foreign services providing programming content to Canadians.
  • Increasing Canadian content discoverability options by requiring: all services offering on-demand programming content to Canadian consumers to maintain a Canadian content minimum in their program selections; Internet search engines to tweak their algorithms to ensure Canadians are offered some Canadian choices when they search for cultural/artistic content.

“We are very pleased the Panel has recognized the importance of investing and promoting Canadian content and its discoverability on all platforms,” said Sparrow. “This is a call to action, and we look forward to the government heeding the call and moving quickly.”

Specific details and measures included in the Panel’s report require further review and analysis after which ACTRA may have further comment.

About ACTRA
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 25,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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Media Contact: Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer, ACTRA National, tel: 416-644-1519, email: ctaverner@actra.ca

Catherine O’Hara to be honoured by Canadian performers with 2020 ACTRA National Award of Excellence

TORONTO, ON (January 13, 2020) — Canadian performers will shine a spotlight on comedy icon Catherine O’Hara by presenting her with the 2020 ACTRA National Award of Excellence on Saturday, April 18 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. The award recognizes an ACTRA member’s career achievements, and contribution to their fellow performers and Canada’s entertainment industry.

“Canadian actors are thrilled to honour our colleague, the multi-talented Catherine O’Hara, for her outstanding contribution to Canada’s entertainment industry,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “From our beloved Canadian comedy series SCTV, to Best in Show, to playing ‘Moira’ on Schitt’s Creek for six award-winning seasons, Catherine’s body of work is truly exceptional.”

“As anyone who knows me will attest, I am forever boasting about all things Canadian,” said Catherine O’Hara. “Thank you so much, fellow ACTRA members, if I wasn’t a good Canadian, I’d brag about this lovely honour too.”

For her work as the eccentric and hilarious Moira Rose on the hit CBC series Schitt’s Creek, Catherine O’Hara has won four consecutive Canadian Screen Awards for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, the 2016 ACTRA Toronto Award for Outstanding Performance, a 2019 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and 2020 SAG Award nominations for both Outstanding Performance in a Comedy Series by an Ensemble and Female Actor. Other television credits include Six Feet Under, Curb Your Enthusiasm and HBO’s Temple Grandin for which she earned Emmy, Satellite and SAG Award nominations. Catherine began her comedy career with Toronto’s Second City Theatre and, later with the troupe, which included fellow Schitt’s Creek star and 2010 ACTRA Award of Excellence recipient Eugene Levy, created the iconic Canadian sketch comedy show SCTV. Catherine earned four Emmy nominations and one win for her writing on SCTV. Catherine’s numerous film credits include Beetlejuice, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, The Life Before This, Where the Wild Things Are and many more. Catherine collaborated with Christopher Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy four times on the critically acclaimed mockumentary films Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Catherine joins our list of past ACTRA National Award of Excellence winners including Jay Baruchel (2019), Molly Parker (2018), Kim Coates (2017), Neve Campbell (2016) and Jason Priestley (2015).

About ACTRA
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 25,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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Media Contact: Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer, ACTRA National, tel: 416-644-1519, email: ctaverner@actra.ca

ACTRA statement on amended Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement

Toronto, ON (December 12, 2019) — ACTRA is pleased with the progress made by all parties to amend the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (USMCA, or CUSMA in Canada). We look forward to our minority government working together to pass legislation as quickly as possible to ratify the trade agreement with two of Canada’s largest trading partners.

“We were happy to see all sides work together to secure a stronger deal and are pleased the cultural exemption remains in place to protect Canadian culture and our cultural industries,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “The ratification of this agreement in Canada will be a positive step to creating a modern trade deal.”

About ACTRA
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 25,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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Media Contact:
Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer, ACTRA National, tel: 416.644.1519, email: ctaverner@actra.ca

ACTRA congratulates Steven Guilbeault on his appointment as new Canadian Heritage Minister

TORONTO, ON (November 20, 2019) — Canadian performers are welcoming Steven Guilbeault to his new role as Minister of Canadian Heritage.

“We appreciate the federal government’s support for our industry over the past four years,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “We look forward to working with Mr. Guilbeault in his new position as Minister of Canadian Heritage. In our mission to Keep Canada on our Screens, we eagerly await the introduction of new legislation to ensure all content providers contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian content.”

“We would also like to thank the honourable Pablo Rodriguez for his efforts to protect and promote Canada’s cultural sector while he served as Minister of Canadian Heritage and wish him success in his new role as Government House Leader,” added Sparrow.

About ACTRA
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national union of professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of over 25,000 members across the country – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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Media Contact:

Jennifer McGibbon, Public Relations Officer, ACTRA National, tel: 416-489-1311, email: jmcgibbon@actra.ca

 

 

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