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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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Financial Help

1. Tell me about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefits (CRB).

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.

2. Without gigs, I can’t make my payments? What can I do?
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)
3. What if someone needs emergency help to cover the cost of groceries and rent?
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.
4. Do you know if we should apply for Ontario Works? Or is there another option to receive money while this is happening?
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.
5. Can you direct me to a government number to call for EI assistance?
Visit the Government of Canada’s EI Contact information – individual page. Be aware, though, that EI has been swamped with inquiries and applications.
6. Will there be any support for those who haven’t had any future contract work cancelled because there was nothing booked when all of this started, but now do not have the possibility of getting work?
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.
7. My part-time job gives me about 10% of my income. Acting gives me about 90%. I am eligible for EI with that 10%. Could I get CERB as well as regular EI?
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.
8. The problem is that most “assistance” programs require “more than half of your income from work in the entertainment industry.”
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.
9. I wonder if I should have signed up for regular EI for self-employed people.
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.
10. Where can I find answers to questions about my AFBS retirement and insurance options?
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.

ACTRA Business

1. What is the impact of the ACTRA Toronto office closure on member services?
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.
2. What is ACTRA Toronto doing to make sure performers are included in emergency measures?
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.
3. Will the union be able to compensate us for anything?
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.
4. Is Creative Arts Savings and Credit Union (CASCU) still open?
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.
5. With the ACTRA offices closed, are you still receiving commercial payments and sending them to performers?
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.
6. Since most agents’ offices are closed, how can we arrange to have cheques sent directly to us?
Ask membership@actratoronto.com to email you an Agent Authorization Form.
7. Will you be offering members who are full-member university students a break on dues this year? As an ACTRA member of over ten years, I risk losing my membership because I have to prioritize my tuition payments.
Canada has announced it is delaying student loan payments for three months.  ACTRA’s dues deadline was extended this year until August 31st, 2020. If you require extra consideration, please email membership@actratoronto.com.
8. I know ACTRA delayed annual dues, which is good, but would ACTRA consider waiving annual dues this year or at least reducing them?
Recognizing the impact of the pandemic, members were given the option to reduce their dues and annual fee payments by 25%. As production begins to ramp up, 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. 

Productions & Payments

1. If Production offices are shutting down, how will I get paid?
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.
2. What is happening with our members and work considering COVID-19? Are any of our members working today? Have commercial productions moved forwards with filming?
Most projects have been postponed for the time being. Some performers with pro quality in-home studios are getting voice work.
3. A commercial producer called me Monday night and postponed a shoot on Wednesday, for which I was booked. Will I be paid?
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.
4. I have been booked on a commercial as a Standby Performer but I auditioned for the Principal role. What does this mean?

For many Engagers and Advertisers, it has become common practice to engage alternate Principal (PP) and Silent-on-Camera (SOC) Performers as Standby Performers in case the booked PPs and SOCs cannot work due to illness. This is an additional safety precaution undertaken by Production to ensure a safe set. These Performers are booked, contracted, paid a minimum rate of $511.50 and requested to remain at home on the shoot day. On the day of the shoot, they are released from their booking within an hour or so from the call time. ACTRA Toronto has been clear with Production that this rate is a minimum rate subject to negotiation as with any other rate in the NCA and to be sure to make the Agent/Performer aware of and accept the SB rate being offered.

Definition – Article 207:

Standby (SB) Background Performer is a Performer who is on call, at a place designated by the Engager, to participate in place of another person. Once a Standby is required to perform, he/she shall be upgraded in category as follows:

If a performance is not recorded or preserved, the Standby’s category shall nonetheless be upgraded to the category of performance fulfilled, and the Standby shall be paid the Session Fee only for that category of performance. There shall be no residual payments.

If the performance is recorded or preserved, the Standby’s category shall be elevated to the category performed and the Standby shall be paid the applicable Session Fee and residual fees.

When a Standby is not required to participate as a Performer, he/ she shall nonetheless be paid a Standby fee per commercial.

5. When will the industry start up again?
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.
6. What measures is ACTRA Toronto taking to ensure that members will not face pressure to work, or loss of work when productions begin operating again, if the individual member still has any doubt about health risks due to COVID-19?
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.

How can I help?

1. What can I do to help?

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.