ACTRA’s Apprentice Program

ACTRA’s Apprentice Program allows performers who are new to ACTRA to work on ACTRA sets and earn credits toward Full membership.

How the Apprentice Program Works

  1. Land a qualifying role in a production shot under ACTRA’s jurisdiction. Qualifying categories of work include:
    • a contracted Principal, Actor, Stunt, Dancer, Singer, Host, Off-Camera Performer role shot under the Independent Production Agreement (IPA). The IPA covers film, television series, industrial videos, animation, movies-of-the-week and digital media.
    • a contracted Principal or Silent-On-Camera commercial role shot under the National Commercial Agreement (NCA).
    • a speaking role under one of our broadcast agreements (such as CBC, CityTV, or CTV).
    • off-camera voice work in ACTRA’s jurisdiction.
  2. Once you get the role (but before you work), apply for a work permit through the appropriate ACTRA Toronto department (ex. Film, TV and Digital Media or Commercial Agreement). To indicate your intent to join, please ensure you check the box beside “Please select to join ACTRA Membership” on the work permit.
    [NOTE: There is a 6-week window to join as an Apprentice on an approved permit in a qualifying category of work.]
    You will pay a yearly Apprentice fee of $75 and will be required to complete an orientation session for new Apprentice members. As well, before you become a Full Member, you will be required to complete the Respect on Set Workshops.
  3. Once you have registered in the Apprentice Program, you need two more qualifying credits (a total of three) to become a Full member. There is no time limit between joining the Apprentice Program and becoming a Full member so long as you maintain your Apprentice membership and pay your annual fees.
  4. When you purchase your third* work permit, advise the ACTRA Membership Department that you want to become a Full ACTRA member. The initiation fee is $1,600 plus annual dues. Apprentice Members may deduct from their $1,600 Full membership fee: the cost of any qualifying Apprentice member credits used toward earning their Full membership and their initial Apprentice membership fee.

*Qualifying work permits towards ACTRA membership are now capped at three (3) for Canadian permittees who choose not to join the union.

Education Credits

Apprentice members can earn an additional credit through education or training. Check here to see if your school is recognized by ACTRA. If you attended a Canadian school or institution not on the list, please contact us.

Apprentice Member Rights

Apprentice members can participate in ratification votes on ACTRA agreements under the terms of which they have worked. Apprentice members may also serve on ACTRA Toronto’s various committees. Apprentice members are not eligible to vote in ACTRA Toronto Council elections nor can they hold elected positions on the ACTRA Toronto Council. However, Apprentice members are eligible to run for and/or vote in the election for the Apprentice Caucus chair and other Caucus Executive positions.

ACTRA Apprentices can attend ACTRA Toronto’s free member conferences and take advantage of discounts available to ACTRA members. ACTRA Apprentice members are protected by ACTRA’s collective agreements and enjoy improved wages and working conditions, preference of engagement, enhanced work opportunities and all the advantages that flow from our union’s constant activism, advocacy and collective bargaining power.

ACTRA Apprentice members are not entitled to health and insurance benefits through AFBS until they become Full members, but AFBS offers the Arts and Entertainment Plan to Apprentice members interested in purchasing a benefits plan. Once an Apprentice member becomes a Full ACTRA member, the performer’s retirement contributions paid to AFBS over the previous two years will be credited to the member’s RRSP account administered by AFBS.

ACTRA Apprentice Member Advantage FAQs

ACTRA’s Apprentice program allows performers who are new to ACTRA to work on ACTRA sets and earn credits toward full ACTRA membership.

What is ACTRA and why should I join?

ACTRA is the union representing professional performers in the English-language recorded media in Canada. Our members work in films, television, video games, radio, digital media and commercials. To join ACTRA, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

ACTRA Toronto has over 15,000 members and is the largest organization within ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists). As an advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA continues to secure the rights and respect for the work of professional performers by:

  • Negotiating and enforcing agreements that set out the minimum fees and working conditions for performers.
  • Ensuring members have a safe work environment.
  • Ensuring members are paid for their work on set or in studio and also for the use of the recorded performance.
  • Providing training and professional development opportunities.
  • Ensuring sets remain professional and safe places to work.
How do I qualify?

To be eligible to join, you must earn a qualifying credit. One type of qualifying credit is an engagement as a performer in a residual category under an ACTRA Agreement.

What else counts as a qualifying credit?
  • An AABP Credit: ACTRA Additional Background Performer (AABP) members with documented proof of 200 Background (BG) days or 1,600 BG hours on ACTRA sets as an AABP member in good standing, may apply to the Apprentice Program. Note: The 15 BG days used to qualify for your AABP membership count towards the 200 days/1,600 hours required for the AABP credit (please see the AABP Advantage FAQ).
  • Recent Graduate: New graduates can apply to join ACTRA as an Apprentice member within one (1) year of completing a course of studies from eligible schools and post-secondary schools and institutions. You must apply within one (1) year of completing your course of studies.
What is the fee to join as an Apprentice Member?

An Apprentice initiation fee of $75 must be paid when you join. A $75 annual fee is required to renew your Apprentice membership and maintain any credits you have earned. Attending the Apprentice Orientation Session is also required when you join ACTRA.

How do Apprentices become Full Members?

Apprentice Members need a total of three qualifying credits to become Full Members of ACTRA. There is no time limit to earn these credits, so long as you maintain your Apprentice membership by paying the annual Apprentice renewal fee.

NOTE: Under ACTRA’s Constitution, Apprentice Members must apply for full membership status at the same time they apply for their third qualifying permit. Failure to do so will result in their Apprentice membership file being closed. Should the Performer wish to apply for Apprentice membership again in the future, the previous qualifying work permits will not apply.

Accordingly, when you purchase your third work permit you will be asked to complete a Full Member Application form, pay your initiation fee and annual basic dues (pro-rated to the current month).

What’s the cost of Apprentice Permits and Fees?

The cost of a work permit depends on the role and the agreement. Additionally, Permit fees are tax deductible, so keep your receipts.

When applying for Full Member status, Apprentice Members may also deduct from their $1,600 Full membership fee: the cost of any qualifying Apprentice member credits used toward earning their Full membership and their initial Apprentice membership fee ($75).

What are the advantages of being an Apprentice Member?
  • Apprentice Members can participate in ratification votes on ACTRA agreements and may serve on ACTRA Toronto’s various committees. However, Apprentice members do not have voting rights in Council elections and are not eligible to hold elected positions on Council at ACTRA Toronto.
  • Apprentices are encouraged to attend ACTRA Toronto’s free member conferences and take advantage of discounts available to ACTRA members.
  • Apprentices are protected by ACTRA’s collective agreements and benefit from the union’s negotiating power with producers that results in better wages and working conditions, improved job opportunities and better protection.
  • When an Apprentice Member becomes a Full ACTRA Member, the performer’s retirement deductions paid to AFBS over the previous two years will be credited to the member’s RRSP account administered by AFBS.