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Information about the COVID-19 pandemic changes hourly. Bookmark your federal, provincial and municipal governments’ COVID-19 pages. 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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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 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 was made retroactive to March 15, 2020.

UPDATE – Thursday, August 20, 2020

CERB EXTENSION:

CERB is 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.

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 our 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).

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.

CRB application is now open.

CRA’s FAQ on CRB.

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.

A wide range of institutions, from banks and utility companies to mobile and internet service providers, announced special policies for delayed or deferred payments. If you think you will miss a payment, contact your creditor(s) as soon as possible. Student loan payments were postponed until September 30, 2020.

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.

CRB is intended for people who are not working, or whose income is reduced by 50 per cent or more because of COVID, and who are not eligible for EI.

If you have a side gig, find out if you are eligible for EI

You can figure out whether your income* is reduced in one of two ways: 1) using your 2019 tax return, determine your income and divide by 52. That will give you your average weekly income for 2019 or 2) add up your income* for the last 12 months and divide by 52. That will give you your average weekly income for the last 12 months. Your average weekly income for each period for which you apply must be less than half of your average weekly income as calculated by one of the above two methods.

You can only apply for CRB for a maximum of 13 2-week periods, one period at a time. The program ends on Sept 25, 2021.  

You can work while receiving CRB.

Be aware that if you earn more than $38,000 in a year and receive CRB, you may have to pay some of it back at tax time. 

CRB FAQs.

* income includes net self-employment income (revenue minus expenses), employment income, tips, honoraria, residuals. It does not include pensions or CERB. Please review the complete eligibility criteria for CRB.

Unlike grants, CERB and CRB do 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 continues 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.

ACTRA’s dues deadline was extended until August 31st, 2020 and members were offered a reduction (see next question). If you require extra consideration, please email membership@actratoronto.com.

Canada delayed student loan payments until September 30. 

On June 30th, in recognition of the effect of the pandemic on work opportunities in our industry, the ACTRA Toronto Council voted to provide members with an option to reduce their basic dues and annual fee amount by 25 per cent. The deadline for payment was August 31, 2020. Should you need further consideration, please contact the Membership department by emailing membership@actratoronto.com.

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 continue to process payroll. EP Canada and Cast and Crew are working. All payments to Performers are due per the IPA.

Ontario is Ready to Roll. A reduced number of productions covered by the IPA, the NCA, the Audio Code and Videogame agreements are shooting or recording, subject to COVID protocols. Some work is being recorded remotely and some on set. Some voice performers with pro-quality in-home studios are working from home.

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.
The industry has started up again, slowly and carefully. 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. 
Productions must abide by the Section 21 COVID safety guidelines. ACTRA works with its industry Health and Safety Committee counterparts to ensure and monitor that health and safety rules are being followed and reviews the COVID procedures of every production. 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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