CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Although the ACTRA Toronto office remains closed to the public, ACTRA Toronto staff are on the job – supporting members and productions as they return to work, continuing to process and mail commercial cheques and payments and providing other essential services. Staff, working remotely (and some currently on reduced hours), will return messages as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding and patience.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 ready to roll!

Film and television production is permitted to open across Ontario subject to ensuring the appropriate health and safety protocols are followed. Please refer to the province’s website for more information.

The Ministry of Labour Guidelines for the safe return to work in the Film and Television industry have 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.

All productions are required to have COVID-19 policies in accordance with the Ministry Guidelines, including the designation of personnel responsible for the implementation of the policies. 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 TovaHello 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.

This means…

 

KEEP YOUR DISTANCE…

Stay 6 feet/ 2 metre apart - about the length of a hockey stick

 

WEAR A MASK…

Masks and transmission probabilities

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.

 

..AND KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN!

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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.

Use our handy online checklist to create your own COVID kit and check out ACTRA Toronto’s Performer Highlights document.

 

WHAT IT’S LIKE ON SET WITH COVID-19 GUIDELINES

 

ACTRA Toronto @Work Interview Series

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.

 

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).

 

OTHER NEWS

Creative Arts Financial

Members of the Creative Arts Savings and Credit Union have voted “yes” to joining operations with FirstOntario Credit Union. More information is available on the CASCU website.

ACTRA Toronto Webinar: All About Animation – ACTRA Voice Performer Panel

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? Check out All About Animation – ACTRA Voice Performer Panel, recorded on October 8th, 2020, and hear ACTRA Toronto members Deven Mack, Stephany Seki, Ana Sani 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

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. This year members got together virtually. Watch the Town Hall.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay connected.

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

 

Although the ACTRA Toronto office remains closed to the public, ACTRA Toronto staff are on the job – supporting members and productions as they return to work, 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.

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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 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.

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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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  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada · M4Y 2G1
  • Hours: 9:00 am to 4:45 pm, Monday to Friday
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  • Telephone: 416-928-2278
  • Toll-free: 1-877-913-2278
  • Fax: 416-928-2852
  • 24/7 EMERGENCY REPORTING:
  • HAVEN HELPLINE: 1-855-201-7823
  • AFTER-HOURS NON-EMERGENCY REPORTING
  • Email: afterhours@actratoronto.com