Historic Win for Child Performers in Ontario!
Protecting Child Performers Act has Royal Assent
After passing unanimously through the legislature on Thursday, 30 April 2015, the Protecting Child Performers Act, 2015 was given Royal Assent, on May 5, 2015. The law came into force on February 5, 2016 and covers both the live and the recorded entertainment industries. This historic legislation contains provisions to protect a portion of minors’ income, ensure their education is not compromised, guarantees parental supervision, age-appropriate hours of work and breaks, and health and safety measures. For the first time, the Protecting Child Performers Act, 2015 provides health and safety protections, income protection and tutoring to all children who work in the Ontario live and recorded entertainment industry
ACTRA Toronto had been seeking legislation to protect child performers for a long time. An earlier version of the Bill (Bill 71 Protecting Child Performers Act) had been ordered for Third Reading at Queen’s Park before dying on the Order Paper when the June 12, 2014, Ontario provincial election was called. (Click here to learn more about how Ontario Private Members’ Bills become law.)
Unlike other industries where children can’t work until they’re at least 14 years old, the entertainment industry employs children on stage and on screen from an early age. But for the longest time there was no legislation to specifically protect them. Young workers often can’t recognize health and safety hazards, which can lead to serious injury, illness or even death.
Private members’ bills rarely make it into law. That this one did is a remarkable accomplishment, many years in the making. ACTRA members have always been and still are protected by their collective agreements. With the passing of this legislation, children working on non-union sets gained some of the protections that ACTRA members have had in their workplaces as a result of collective bargaining. For ACTRA members, the legislation provides another layer of protection and demonstrates that Unions raise standards, not just for their own members, but for everyone.
Protecting Child Performers Act was introduced in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly for First Reading on 16 July 2014 by NDP MPP Paul Miller (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek).
ACTRA Toronto and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association strongly supported the bill as it recognized the potential vulnerabilities of child performers in the film, television and live entertainment industry, and provided suitable protections for young workers.