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 ALL staff continue to work remotely.

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

 

Special Note regarding workplace reopening in Ontario

 

Effective May 19, 2020, Ontario is in stage one of its stage-by-stage reopening of the economy. Stage one includes some media operations such as:

Office-based media operations involving equipment that does not allow for remote working. For example:

  • Sound recording, such as production, distribution, publishing, studios.
  • Film and television post-production, film and television animation studios.
  • Publishing: periodical, book, directory, software, video games.
  • Interactive digital media, such as computer systems design and related services (e.g., programming, video game design and development).

 

Filming or other on-site activities, especially those that require the gathering of workers, performers or others are not permitted to resume in Stage 1.

 

If you’re a performer who regularly works in any of the permitted categories, please consult these preliminary guidelines for a safe return to work. There are important questions you should ask to make sure your work environment is following necessary health and safety protocols.

 

A Message from ACTRA Toronto President Theresa Tova

 

Theresa TovaACTRA Toronto is working with industry and government partners on the Ministry of Labour’s Section 21 Health and Safety Committee on Return to Work Health and Safety Guidelines. In the interim, the Best Practices – Voice Studios document on our website offers tips for eligible production studios looking to reopen. When you are auditioning and booking voice work, insurance and health and safety protections need to be in place.

Return to work health and safety protocols were a main focus of ACTRA Toronto’s third Virtual Town Hall meeting last week. Over 200 members joined us during the meeting and another 240 have since accessed the recording on our website.

In addition to health and safety protections and the kind of changes we are likely to see as production starts up, we talked about the need to lobby our government to continue to support our industry and cultural workers who have been impacted enormously by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canadian Media Producers (CMPA) study estimates that the impact of the pandemic on production volumes this spring is $2.5 billion across Canada. In Ontario, the impact is approximately $700 million in production volume, resulting in job losses for 45,000 people each month we have been shut down.
 

Take Action to Extend CERB

Please click here to write your Member of Parliament and sign a petition to see the CERB extended until our industry has recovered and we see a return to pre-pandemic production levels.

 
While we expect to see production volumes increase as the economy reopens, it is going to take time. The federal and provincial government have responded well to ACTRA’s calls for benefits and programs to include cultural workers and independent producers. We need to make sure our voices are heard again. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is only scheduled to last until October 3, 2020.

As the economy slowly starts to recover, it is more important than ever to be careful and heed the advice of medical professionals. While the uncertainty continues, it is also important to stay connected and make sure you are getting the support you need to stay mentally and physically healthy:

  • Click here for resources available now through HAVEN and the Lifeworks app
  • Check out ACTRA Spotlight for links to professional resources, stories of ACTRA members doing extraordinary and compassionate projects and, of course, our podcasts.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay connected.

Theresa Tova
President, ACTRA Toronto

 

 

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. 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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