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A Message from ACTRA Toronto President David Gale – January 12, 2021

ACTRA Toronto President David Gale

Dear ACTRA Toronto Members,

On January 12th, Ontario introduced Stay at Home Orders as part of the emergency measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
 
Film and Television production is permitted to continue during this phase, thanks to the strong and effective safety protocols in place across the industry.
 
ACTRA Toronto is stepping up our work with the industry to review and improve our protocols, including regular testing. ACTRA Toronto staff continue to work remotely.

In the meantime, all members are reminded to follow and adhere to best practices and the public order to stay at home when not commuting for work, grocery shopping or attending medical appointments.
 
We appreciate that the emergency orders will have an impact on everyone but the modelling presented by the Ontario Government paints a grim picture of rising case numbers unless protocols are strictly followed. Everyone needs to do what they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. So, please do your part:

  • wear a mask and PPE
  • maintain physical distance and
  • wash and sanitize your hands frequently

All levels of government continue to study additional measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 while we wait for the vaccination program to rollout. Stay connected through phone or video calls. If you or someone you know needs support, contact the HAVEN Helpline or phone 211 for counselling, community and crisis support.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay connected.

David Gale
President, ACTRA Toronto

Stop the spread of COVID-19

What are the best steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect your health?

  • Maintain physical distance (Keep 6 ft/2m apart)
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands

Follow the protocols and practices for wardrobe, props, barriers for any scenes that require being in close contact with others.

Use our handy online checklist (below) to create your own COVID kit and check out ACTRA Toronto’s COVID-19 Best Practices page.

Mental Health Support

In these times, reaching out for support and looking after your mental health is so important.You can find links to on-line and emergency mental health supports on ACTRA Toronto’s updated Mental Health Support page. Please spend the time to see what is available and share with others.

What can you expect on set?

Watch ACTRAToronto@work to hear first hand stories of ACTRA performers back at work. From the audition process to sets and studios locally and afar, performers share their experiences and advice.

Waiting for a Commercial payment?

Please don’t forget to take a picture of your completed contract when working on a commercial and email it to us at nca@actratoronto.com. This helps us to make sure you are paid properly and in a timely manner.

Commercial staff, working remotely and some on reduced hours, continue to process call-back cheques and commercial payments. Commercial coordinators who check the “cheques” for errors have collected over $900,000 for performers in the last 9 months of this pandemic.

Thank you, ACTRA Toronto Commercial staff!

ACTRA Toronto Business Representatives and OSLOs:

Workplace COVID-19 protocols apply to ACTRA Business Representatives and the ACTRA Toronto Onset Liaison Officers (OSLOs). We are visiting as many sets as possible but are minimizing risks by reaching out to sets remotely too. If you need to reach ACTRA Toronto urgently or have a question for a rep, you can:

  • call the main switchboard at ACTRA Toronto 416-928-2278
  • send an e-mail to afterhours@actratoronto.com or
  • access the HAVEN Helpline (1-855-201-7823) in case of harassment or for mental health support.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) News

After CERB’s expiry on September 27, individuals who do not qualify for EI can apply for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

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 COVID-19 Best Practices page. 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

ACTRA Toronto Service Update

In accordance with the Ontario Government’s 2nd Declaration of Emergency, the ACTRA Toronto office is closed to the public. Film and Television production is permitted to continue under the enhanced restrictions, however, and ACTRA Toronto staff continue to work, mostly remotely, supporting members and productions by continuing to process and mail commercial cheques and payments and providing other essential services. Staff will return messages as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

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

  • Some 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 was extended to August 31st, 2020.
  • Annual Fee deadlines for Apprentices (with renewal dates between March and July), and all unpaid AABPs were 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.

Postponement & 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.

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.

Government Response

Federal

On March 25th, the federal government announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The CERB provided $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lost 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 could earn up to $1000 while still earning full CERB. (i.e. $3000 total)

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

This change was retroactive to March 15, 2020. CERB has now ended.

UPDATE – Thursday, August 20, 2020

CERB EXTENSION:

CERB was extended for another four-week period (to September 27) at the current amount of $500/week ($2,000/month), which bought the maximum payment period to 28 weeks.

UPDATE – Sunday, September 27th, 2020

The CERB has now ended

The CRA is continuing to accept and process retroactive applications for period 7 (August 30 to September 26, 2020). You can continue to apply retroactively for this period only through the CRA’s My Account or automated toll-free phone line.

The CRA is aiming to issue payments for retroactive applications within their service standard of 3-5 business days for direct deposit and 10-12 business days for cheques, however, in some cases, it will take longer for payments to be issued.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) gives financial support to employed and self-employed Canadians who are directly affected by COVID-19.

If you are eligible, you can receive $2,000 for a 4-week period (the same as $500 a week).

If your situation continues past 4 weeks, you will need to apply for the CERB again. You may re-apply for up to a total of 28 weeks.

UPDATE – Wednesday, September 30, 2020

CANADA RECOVERY BENEFIT:

After CERB’s expiry on September 27, individuals who do not qualify for EI can apply for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.

If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.

Details about how you can apply will be available on October 12, 2020.

CANADA RECOVERY SICKNESS BENEFIT (CRSB):

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they’re sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you’re eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period.

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.

CANADA RECOVERY CAREGIVING BENEFIT:

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. This applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they’re sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19. The CRCB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you’re eligible for the CRCB, your household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period.

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.

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.

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.

CORONAVIRUS INFO
FINANCIAL RELIEF
MENTAL HEALTH
INSURANCE & RETIREMENT
ACTRA TORONTO RESOURCES
OTHER RESOURCES