News and information about COVID-19 changes by the day. Watch your email inbox and this page for updates.
Ontario is getting ready to roll!
As of Wednesday June 24, 2020, all film and television production is 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
September 23rd, 2020
Hello ACTRA Toronto members,
As we move into autumn and productions are starting up again, it is more important than ever to stand together with our industry partners in upholding and adhering to COVID-19 health and safety policies and protocols. Keeping our industry healthy and working is everyone’s responsibility.
All productions have policies about the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Some productions are providing their own PPE which may include masks and shields. The PPE is for your protection and the protection of others. When you agree to abide by the set protocols, you are agreeing to the use of PPE. Improper use or neglect to follow the COVID protocols not only puts the health of cast and crew at risk but may also lead to the termination of your contract.
Wash your hands regularly. Use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching props and surfaces unless you know they have been sanitized.
Follow the protocols and practices for wardrobe, props, barriers for any scenes that require being in close contact with others.
Check out our ACTRAToronto@Work Series and watch David Gale, VP, ACTRA Toronto in conversation with ACTRA Toronto Councillor Aidan Devine, Laura Vandervoort, Tony Nappo and Rainbow Sun Francks. Hear about what it is like to work with PPE, and the steps productions are taking to keep everyone safe. And, stay tuned for more interviews and first hand stories as performers return to work.
It is still early days in our industry’s return to work and there have been some hiccups but here are a few things that can help:
COMMUNICATION IS KEY: Read the workplace policy. Ask questions. Each workplace has a COVID coordinator. You or your agent can reach out to the coordinator or Producer if you have questions. ACTRA Toronto requires all productions to submit their policy to the union before starting work. Producers and engagers are working with ACTRA Toronto to make sure the policies and protocols adhere to the Ontario Guidelines. Staff at ACTRA Toronto have worked on more than 120 COVID- 19 policies in the last month.
SPEAK UP: If you have a question or concern, you are likely not the only one. The name and contact information of the set COVID-19 coordinator should be on the call sheet. Speak with the coordinator. Speak with your Agent. Call ACTRA. If you feel the workplace is unsafe for you and your co-workers, you have the right to refuse unsafe work.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has developed a series of questions and answers for understanding your human rights and obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Performer’s FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on the ACTRA Toronto website is another useful resource.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or
- access the HAVEN Helpline (1-855-201-7823) in case of harassment or for mental health support.
The federal government announced in late August that they were extending CERB until the end of September when it will be replaced by the Canada Recovery Benefit (CERB). Details won’t be available until legislation is introduced when Parliament resumes but the government announced that the benefit will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and who still require income support. As soon as details are available, we will send out a link in an e-mail to members.
Creative Arts Information Session & Special Members Meeting
- CASCU Information Session: Thursday, September 24th 1 pm – 2:30 pm
- CASCU Special Members Meeting: Tuesday, October 6th 1 pm – 2 pm
Members of the Creative Arts Savings and Credit Union are invited to an information session and a special members meeting about exciting changes that will improve financial services for the entertainment industry.
Information about the meetings was mailed to CASCU members and is available on the CASCU website.
ACTRA Toronto Webinar – All About Animation
- Tuesday, September 29th 12 – 1:30 pm on Zoom
Are you interested in working as a voice performer in animation? Are you a fan of shows like Total DramaRama, Beyblade, or Mysticons? Want to hear from the performers who bring your favourite characters to life?
Click the webinar registration button below to join ACTRA Toronto members Deven Mack, Stephany Seki and Nicole Stamp in conversation with award winning voice performer and ACTRA Toronto Voice Committee Chair Cory Doran about their experience in the industry and why they love this engaging and challenging work.
2020 ACTRA Toronto Members Town Hall
- Thursday October 8th 1 pm – 4 pm
For the last 15 years, ACTRA Toronto members have gathered together at our fall conference to participate in professional development workshops, listen to panels and attend a plenary session with guest speakers from the industry and members of the ACTRA Toronto Council. Well, this year isn’t like other years but that doesn’t mean we can’t get together virtually.
Click the Town Hall registration button below to register and watch your inbox for information about guest speakers and panels.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay connected.
President, ACTRA Toronto
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
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
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 email@example.com.
- 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.
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.
- IPA provisions regarding postponements and cancellation of scheduled days
- NCA provisions regarding postponement and cancellation of scheduled days
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.
- ACTRA Toronto Letter to Telefilm re: Corporate Plan 2020 – July 20th, 2020
- ACTRA Toronto Letter to Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs – July 6th, 2020
- FilmOntario Letter to Minister MacLeod re: COVID-19 Response
- Letter to the Federal Ministers regarding the COVID Response Letter
- The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is asking Canada’s banks and credit card companies to reduce credit card interest rates during the COVID-19 health crisis.
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.
UPDATE – Thursday, August 20, 2020
CERB will be extended for another four-week period (to September 27) at the current amount of $500/week ($2,000/month), which brings the maximum payment period to 28 weeks.
After CERB’s expiry on September 27, individuals who do not qualify for EI can apply for a new recovery benefit, which will pay up to $400/week for up to 26 weeks if they have stopped working or had reduced incomes due to COVID-19. Under this new recovery benefit, individuals continue to earn money, but will be required to repay 50 cents of every dollar earned above $38,000. This benefit will be taxed at payment.
PAID SICK LEAVE BENEFIT:
This new benefit will provide 10 days of paid sick leave to any worker in Canada who falls ill or has to self-isolate due to COVID-19. This new benefit will provide $500/week. Individuals may not claim this benefit and another sick leave payment at the same time. This benefit will be taxed at payment.
This new benefit will provide $500/week to Canadians who must stay home to care for a child under 12 or another dependent because their school, daycare or other day program facility is shut down due to COVID-19. Individuals who choose to keep their children home even though the facility is open will not qualify, unless they provide proof there is a medical reason to do so such as an immunodeficiency disorder. This benefit will be taxed at payment.
In mid-September, a webpage for these three recovery benefits will be established with online applications opening in October.
IMPORTANT NOTE:These benefits still require approval by Parliament which has been prorogued until September 23.
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 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.
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.
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Ontario Ministry of Health: The 2019 Novel Coronavirus
- Toronto Public Health: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19 Page)
- Telehealth Ontario can be reached at 1-866-797-0000
- Telehealth Ontario TTY can be reached at 1-866-797-0007
- World Health Organization
- WSPS (Workplace Safety & Prevention Services)
- ACTRA Toronto COVID-19 Response FAQ
- RECORDING: 1st ACTRA Toronto Virtual Townhall – March 26, 2020 – COVID-19 Update
- RECORDING: 2nd ACTRA Toronto Virtual Townhall – April 9, 2020 – COVID-19 Update
- RECORDING: 3rd ACTRA Toronto Virtual Townhall – May 13, 2020 – Health & Safety Update
- RECORDING: 4th ACTRA Toronto Virtual Townhall – June 18, 2020 – From Words to Action Against Anti-Black Racism and Systemic Discrimination
- RECORDING: 5th ACTRA Toronto Virtual Townhall – June 25, 2020 – Return to Work and COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines
- RECORDING: 6th ACTRA Toronto Virtual Townhall – Aug 6, 2020 – ACTRA/Ubisoft Collective Agreement Referendum Town Hall & Q&A
- When production resumes:
- ACTRA Spotlight – Stories about ACTRA Toronto member volunteerism, union activism and professional development during COVID-19!