CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

While a state of emergency is still in effect in Ontario, some businesses will be permitted to reopen and expand operations. Please see our special note below for how this effects some performers. Please note, ACTRA Toronto’s office remains closed and a reduced complement of staff is working remotely to provide essential services to members.

News and information about COVID-19 changes by the day. Watch your email inbox and this page for updates.

 
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Ontario is getting ready to roll!

As of Wednesday June 24, 2020, all film and television production will be permitted to open across Ontario with the exception of the Windsor area. Please refer to the province’s website for more information on the province’s re-opening plan.

The Ministry of Labour Guidelines for the safe return to work in the Film and Television industry have now been approved. The province requires that “physical distancing must be maintained between all individuals on set whenever possible and must be taken into consideration when organizing the layout of the set.

We expect that all productions will be required to develop Return to Work COVID-19 policies in accordance with the Ministry Guidelines, including the designation of personnel responsible for implementation of the polices. See ACTRA Toronto’s Performer Highlights for information on what to look for in a return to work policy. ACTRA Toronto will require a copy of the Production Return to Work COVID-19 policy and the contact person responsible before any performer reports for work.
 

A Message from ACTRA Toronto President Theresa Tova

 

Theresa Tova

July 7th, 2020
 
Dear ACTRA Toronto Members,

 
There are 2 items to share in this update:

 

  1. EP Canada introduces secure on-line registry for personal residency information.
  2. outACTRAto launches Working with Queer Performers – best practices guide.

 
Productions will be required to submit their COVID-19 Health and Safety policy and the name of the person responsible for the implementation of the policy before any ACTRA members are working on a set. You can check to see if the policy has been submitted by going to the What’s Shooting page on the ACTRA Toronto website.

1. EP Canada introduces secure on-line registry for personal residency information.

One of the projects ACTRA Toronto staff have worked on is the development of EP Canada’s on-line portal for uploading and storing personal information. For a number of years, ACTRA Toronto has been urging industry partners to develop a secure system to store the information productions require from all workers to apply for tax credits. The EP Canada portal allows you to upload required documents once and then provide permission for productions you work on to access the file. No more copies of your tax assessment or driver’s license left on sets. The EP portal will store information for individuals and those who work under loan out corporations. It is quick, easy and secure. You can register online to watch EP’s video on the new portal.

 

2. outACTRAto launches Working with Queer Performers – best practices guide.

The outACTRAto committee proudly launched Working with Queer Performers. Many thanks to the committee for developing this valuable guide to encourage change in the way screenwriters, agents, casting directors, producers and productions treat queer performers. It is about how queer performers are portrayed, managed, auditioned, cast and directed. You can read the full document online.

 
Stay healthy. Stay connected. Stay safe.

Theresa Tova
President, ACTRA Toronto
 
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Be “Ready to Roll” with a personal COVID-19 kit

 
As the industry opens and productions are developing their COVID-19 policies, it is a good time to prepare to return to work. Review the Ministry of Labour Section 21 Guidelines and ACTRA Toronto’s Performer Highlights. Then, consider putting together your own COVID-19 set kit. Here’s how:
 

CREATE A COVID-19 SET KIT


Include the following:

  • a mask
  • a reusable water bottle
  • hand sanitizer
  • a few sterile wipes
  • reusable cutlery
  • a pen
  • snacks – e.g. granola and energy bars

 
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ACTRA Toronto stands in solidarity against anti-black racism and police violence. We, alongside our industry and community partners, have been speaking out in support of political action and peaceful protest for real change. But we can do more.

ACTRA Toronto is taking the following action.

  • We will work with community leaders and anti-racism educators to develop a course on anti-racism. Once we have piloted and delivered this course to Council and Committee leadership, it will be available through our Member Education portal as a REQUIRED component of membership in ACTRA Toronto. If you have not already done so, we strongly encourage members to take the Respect on Set on-line course which includes a discussion about racism, unconscious bias and systemic discrimination. The new course will build on these sections and provide members with tools on how to better prevent and deal with racism and on being more effective allies in the good fight for inclusion and equality.
  • We will continue to support Black, Indigenous and People of Colour creators by:
    • bridging the gap between Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) writers and BIPOC performers, building on the work we do with Working the Scene in Colour
    • supporting the ACTRA Toronto Diversity and Inclusion Committee and BIPOC creators to develop content for the production of demo reels.
  • We will work with Ontario Creates to promote our diverse membership. Diversity is our Strength. If you are a performer who identifies as physically or culturally diverse, please update and upload your profile to diversity.ACTRAonline.ca.
  • We will continue to develop and support partnerships with community and cultural film festivals including ReelWorld, imagineNATIVE, ReelAsian and the Regent Park Film Festival.
  • We will continue to recognize and celebrate Industry professionals and production companies through the Sandi Ross Awards and ACTRA Spotlight who through their actions and productions are demonstrating their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • We will work with our industry and government partners to support diversity and anti-racism training in return-to-work protocols and to support BIPOC creators to bring their stories to our screens. See statement from FilmOntario.
  • We will use our platforms and voices to amplify the voices of our BIPOC partners. ACTRA members are encouraged to take individual action through letter writing and donations. Actions you can take for Racial Justice – A Working Document is a list of resources and actions put together by Toronto member Alice Snaden.
  • ACTRA Toronto members are reminded to take note of the following Statements and Policies:

From words to action. We are committed to continuous learning. We will listen and support the leadership of our Diversity and Inclusion Committee as they identify and encourage further actions and initiatives. There is always more we can do together.
 

 

ACTRA TORONTO SERVICE UPDATE

 

The Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto have declared a state of emergency. All non-essential workplaces are closed. A reduced complement of ACTRA Toronto staff are working remotely.

 

During this time, our phone lines (Main: 416.928.2278, Toll-free: 1-877-913-2278) remain open. Listen to the voice prompts and press zero to leave a brief message. We will return calls according to priority and as soon as possible. Your patience and cooperation are appreciated.

Before you call, check out our COVID-19 Response FAQ, a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to help address issues of common concern. We will update the FAQ regularly.

In the meantime, you will get the fastest response to questions and concerns not dealt with in the FAQ by emailing us at info@actratoronto.com.

For mental health support, please call the Haven Helpline at 1-855-201-7823.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

  • Most productions, are postponing or taking a break – going on hiatus. ACTRA Toronto continues to work with our industry partners and with productions on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the appropriate provisions are followed in the event of a postponement or cancellation of scheduled days.
  • The Annual Basic Dues deadline for Full Members has been extended to August 31st, 2020.
  • Annual Fee deadlines for Apprentices (with renewal dates between March and July), and all unpaid AABPs have been extended to August 31st, 2020.
  • Commercial cheques are not available for pick up but are being mailed to either home or agent, according to the instructions we have on file for you.

 
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POSTPONEMENT AND CANCELLATION

 
ACTRA Toronto continues to work with our industry partners and with productions on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the appropriate provisions are followed in the event of a postponement or cancellation of scheduled days.

 
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ADVOCACY

 
We remain deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 across the economy and are working with all levels of government to provide assistance and financial support. In Ontario, we work with our industry and government partners through FilmOntario.

 
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GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

 

Federal

On March 25th, the federal government announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The CERB provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 15 th, the government expanded the eligibility criteria to “allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.” For clarity, one can earn up to $1000 while still earning full CERB. (i.e. $3000 total)

There’s no limit on the amount of royalty payments for past works (i.e. those produced by artists before the crisis) that an artist may get while receiving the CERB. Someone receiving the CERB may get paid up to $1,000 a month from other sources of income, without penalty or losing their eligibility (and again, royalty payments aren’t included in that category and may be earned on top of the $1,000).

This change will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. Details will be posted on the CERB application portal.

IMPORTANT! To continue receiving the CERB, you have to re-apply monthly.

Provincial

Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture, Lisa MacLeod assured industry stakeholders at a town hall teleconference on March 19th that Ontario’s Film and Television Tax credits are secure.

The Ontario Government announced enhanced protections for workers in all industries as well as additional resources for its Emergency Assistance Program. Apply here.

Municipal

The City of Toronto is extending property tax payment deadlines and modifying penalties on late property tax and other bill payments. Please refer to the city’s website for details.

 
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COVID-19 RESOURCES

 
We encourage all members to follow the advice of health professionals. We appreciate that the current situation is cause for concern and anxiety and are grateful for steps performers are taking to look after each other — providing support to those who are particularly vulnerable in these times.

Links to helpful resources are organized by category below. Click on the category tile to display/hide the list of links in the category.

 

 
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