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Information about the COVID-19 pandemic changes hourly. Members are encouraged to visit and bookmark our Coronavirus Updates page. We will update this list of Frequently Asked Questions on a regular basis.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION CATEGORIES

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Yes. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) began accepting applications on April 6th. .

You can apply for CERB through your My CRA Account or an automated toll-free line: 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

Some eligibility details:

If you have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 and have lost a job or had a booking cancelled because of COVID-19, you are eligible. CERB benefits will cover the period from March 15th to October 3rd.

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.

Even if you only have one cancelled booking, consider applying for the CERB.

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

A wide range of institutions, from banks and utility companies to mobile and internet service providers, have announced special policies for delayed or deferred payments. Student loan payments have been postponed for three months. If you think you will miss a payment, contact your creditor(s) as soon as possible.

If you have urgent expenses that cannot be deferred and you cannot pay, consider applying to the AFC (see next question)

The AFC is the lifeline for Canada’s entertainment industry. Through compassionate and confidential support, they help Canadian entertainment professionals maintain their health, dignity and ability to work. The AFC is an expression of the community’s good will, helping entertainment professionals when they are at their most vulnerable due to injury, illness or other personal hardship.

The Ontario Works site may help you determine whether applying is right for you.

More financial resources can be found on our Coronavirus Updates page.

Visit the Government of Canada’s EI Contact information – individual page. Be aware, though, that EI has been swamped with inquiries and applications.

CERB is not intended to support those who did not have any work to lose. Those individuals could look into other social assistance agencies, such as Ontario Works.

This is currently a little unclear. It is possible your regular EI could continue after the CERB period closes on October 3rd. More clarity will likely emerge before the first date of applications on April 6th.

Unlike grants, CERB does not require that the majority of your income be earned in this industry. The loss of any kind of work will qualify.

Most performers are self-employed for tax purposes and, while EI special benefits for self-employed people were introduced in 2013, ACTRA National’s review of the program might be worth a read before you plunge in.

AFBS is the best source to find answers to your insurance and retirement questions. Consult the AFBS website. Listen to AFBS CEO Bob Underwood address questions on ACTRA Toronto’s March 26th webinar.

Although the ACTRA Toronto office is closed to the public, staff are working remotely and continue to process and mail commercial cheques and payments. Looking for a staff email address? Visit our Contact page.

We are working with our industry and government partners through FilmOntario to ensure that performers and independent production companies are included in Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. ACTRA National and ACTRA Toronto 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 to performers. See the Advocacy section of our Coronavirus Updates page.

ACTRA continues to work with the various Productions to ensure members are paid for any outstanding fees owing. PRS will continue to send out payments as they are made available.

Creative Arts services are available online. If you need to visit the CASCU office, please call in advance and set up an appointment as the doors are locked, and staff are working remotely.
To find “ding-free” ATMs on the Exchange Network, visit their FIND AN ATM page.

We are still receiving commercial payments from payroll, processing them and mailing performer cheques out as quickly as we can. Agencies are still paying residuals. We mail payments to you or your agent, according to the instructions we have on file for you.

Canada has announced it is delaying student loan payments for three months. NEW! As of April 7th, ACTRA’s dues deadline has been extended until August 31st, 2020. If you require extra consideration, please email membership@actratoronto.com.

All options will be considered if and when necessary. The union needs to fund its continuing work chasing residuals, processing and mailing out cheques, fighting for performers to be included in relief programs and negotiating terms for new ways to work during this crisis.

Production offices are closing but continue to process payroll.

A MESSAGE FROM EP CANADA

During this challenging time, EP Canada will be operating in a manner which respects the health & safety of its team while meeting its obligations to its clients.
EP will process payroll based on our clients’ instructions.
ACTRA members should check with the production they are working on for specifics as to when those amounts will be paid.

A MESSAGE FROM CAST & CREW

Our office is continuing to remain open.
There will however be a slight delay with payments this week as we work with a reduced staff.

PRODUCERS DOING THEIR OWN PAYROLL

All payments to Performers are still due per the IPA.

Most projects have been postponed for the time being. Some performers with pro quality in-home studios are getting voice work.

The provisions of our collective agreements have not changed. For questions about specific productions, please contact the Business Rep for that production. To find your business rep, check our What’s Shooting page. Our Contact page also has email addresses for all the business reps.

Nobody knows. In the absence of an effective vaccine, all of the available information and advice underlines the paramount importance of social distancing to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Industries like ours, which rely on relatively large groups of people working in close proximity, are not likely to start up again until public health agencies are confident that they can do so safely. At this point, no one can say when that will be.

The industry will be held to government safety standards when it resumes. ACTRA will work with its industry Health and Safety Committee counterparts to ensure and monitor that health and safety rules are being followed. Members always have a right to refuse work they think is unsafe. Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act guarantees every worker that right.

Stay healthy! Follow the recommendations of Public Health agencies.

Check your inbox and the Coronavirus Updates page regularly.

Read all member communications thoroughly before calling or emailing for clarification.

Free up staff time for member service by reducing telephone traffic to the ACTRA Toronto office as much as possible. Make use of the website instead. For example, most of the forms you need are available here:
Paperwork

Visit the How to Start Volunteering page at Volunteer Toronto for ideas.

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