Improved Protections in the New IPA

The new Independent Production Agreement coming into effect on January 1, 2019 includes improved protections for performers in the areas of discrimination and harassment. Some highlights from the new agreement include the following:

  • Protection from discrimination, including background performers, on the additional grounds of ancestry, citizenship, gender expression, ethnic origin, place of origin, marital and family status.
  • Gender inclusive language recognizing all genders.
  • Recognition that performers not identifying as male or female can request accommodation on dressing facilities.
  • The Union will only notify the employer of a harassment complaint when authorized by the performer.
  • No performer will be required to provide a nude photo on a first audition.
  • In a call back audition requiring nudity or semi-nudity, the audition will be closed and only the necessary number of persons up to a maximum of 5 people from production can attend. Additionally, the performer can request a representative from ACTRA or a personal representative to be present.
  • No auditions or meetings shall be conducted in hotel rooms or residences where a performer is alone with a representative from production.
  • A joint bulletin to be released recognizing the importance of consent-based interactions when work required bodily contact.

Due Justice For All Project

On October 29, ACTRA Toronto staff and members participated in a consultation for the Due Justice for All Project (DJA) – an initiative to develop an alternative to the criminal justice system for survivors of gender-based violence. The project is funded by Status of Women Canada, and administered jointly by METRAC, WomenatthecentrE and Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). We had a lively discussion about some of the current challenges in the criminal justice system and what changes would improve the experience for survivors of gender-based violence. On November 27, we provided written submissions based on the consultation meeting and discussions.

If you are an ACTRA member and interested in participating in the project, WomenatthecentrE is looking for you. Information about one-on-one interviews and focus groups can be found here.

Discipline Committee Meeting Training

The discipline process set out under By-Law No. 7 was revised in 2018 specifically to improve ACTRA’s ability to respond to harassment complaints. On October 24, we held a full day training for discipline committee members. Some staff and executive members were also in attendance.

The morning portion included remarks by the Chair of the discipline committee, Chris Owens, and an orientation on the revised discipline process led by Director Member Services, Nicole Valentin and Special Advisor, Victoria Shen. The afternoon portion was led by Pamela Chapman, a lawyer and legal educator. She was a member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario from 2009 to 2012, a Vice-Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board from 1993 to 2002, and worked as a labour arbitrator and mediator for more than 20 years.

The afternoon training included the following: regulatory decision-making; principles of fairness and impartiality; key components of procedural fairness; dealing with discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and violence; hearing and assessing evidence; assessing credibility; structured decision making and giving reasons.

Speaking Up and Speaking Out

On December 10, we participated in “Women of Colour in the Entertainment Industry discuss Sexual Harassment”. The morning event was organized by Reelworld Film Festival and hosted by Tonya Williams, winner of the Sandi Ross Award this year. The event engaged diverse women from across the film and television industry in a candid, powerful and lively exchange, about sexual harassment from an intersectional perspective.

On December 6, Theresa Tova, ACTRA Toronto President and Victoria Shen, Special Advisor spoke at the United Steelworkers National Staff Meeting. The audience included executive members, business representatives, and representatives from their legal and training departments. ACTRA continues to be recognized in the labour movement as a leader and innovator in harassment prevention.

Harassment Prevention continues

The Ministry of Labour has reported the top health and safety violation in 2017 is workplace violence and harassment. The top ten violations in Ontario are listed below:

  1. Workplace violence and harassment (11,662 violations)
  2. Fall protection (9,658)
  3. Lack of personal protective equipment (8,318)
  4. Improper access and egress (6,472)
  5. Health and safety representative and JHSC (6,239)
  6. Administrative (6,007)
  7. Basic OHS awareness training (5,232)
  8. Improper use/maintenance of ladders/scaffolding (4,846)
  9. Lack of machine/equipment guarding (4,276)
  10. Housekeeping/work surfaces (4,269)

It has also been our experience at ACTRA that more people are coming forward and speaking out. We have accomplished a lot in the last year but there is still much to do. Here are some highlights from our Operating Plan for 2019 on harassment prevention:

  • Enhance and improve reporting mechanisms and supports
  • Work with producers, agents and casting directors to review and improve protections for performers when performances require nudity, semi-nudity, intimacy or violence
  • Develop and update content on harassment prevention for workplace training sessions and courses
  • Continue to collaborate with other unions and guilds to prevent and deal with harassment
  • Work with creative industry partners to develop resources for performance and production programs, including training on boundaries and consent
  • Develop and distribute materials on consent-based interactions
  • Continue to work towards gender equality and diversity