We are thrilled to announce the launch of HAVEN Helpline on June 1, 2019. HAVEN (Harassment and Violence Emergency Network) is a joint initiative of ACTRA and the Directors Guild of Canada. HAVEN is a national 24/7 bilingual incident report line with integrated access to counselling and other support services. The helpline is operated by LifeWorks (formerly Morneau Shepell), the leading provider of assistance programs in Canada. Members can access assistance by phone or chat, speak with a counsellor immediately or book an appointment and have their incidents reports sent to the applicable union. HAVEN is also available through the LifeWorks app, which has a range of well-being resources and perks. HAVEN is made possible through the financial support of AFBS and Telefilm Canada.
IPA and Beyond
The new Independent Production Agreement (IPA) came into effect on January 1, 2019 and features additional measures to prevent and address harassment. We have been busy implementing the commitments we made in the new agreement. On February 14, 2019, to coincide with Valentine’s Day, ACTRA released the Joint Bulletin on Consent Based Interactions. The bulletin emphasized the need to ensure that all bodily contact with performers is consensual. On February 22, 2019, ACTRA met with the Canadian Media Producer’s Association (CMPA) to discuss additional measures to protect performers when they are engaged in scenes involving nudity, intimacy and simulated sexual activity. Protecting performers engaged in such scenes remains a priority issue and we have begun consultations with our Ad Hoc Sexual Harassment Committee, Talent Agents and Managers Association of Canada, Casting Directors Society of Canada, and Intimacy Coordinators to discuss the issues and develop resources and best practices.
Working with Industry Partners
ACTRA is a member of the Section 21 Film and Television Health and Safety Advisory Committee. This is a provincial health and safety body with representatives from producers, labour and government. One of the key functions of the committee is oversight of the Film Safety Guidelines, a series of health and safety guidelines developed specifically to address the needs of the film and television industry. ACTRA played a critical role in developing the new Harassment Guideline which was approved by the committee and submitted to the Ministry of Labour for review and approval in April 2019.
On April 30, 2019, ACTRA hosted a meeting with Ontario unions and guilds. Present were representatives from DGC Ontario, NABET, and IATSE Locals 873, 411 and 667. Almost all the unions and guilds have experienced an increase in reporting on harassment, and everyone committed to continuing to work together.
On April 5, 2019, ACTRA attended the final meeting of the Coordinating Committee for the Respectful Workplaces in the Arts. The project is an initiative of Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) to develop anti-harassment resources for the cultural sector nationally, funded by Heritage Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. ACTRA provided input into the Code of Conduct for Performing Arts, submitted letters of support for additional funding to the project, and offered to assist in developing a helpline.
On May 27-28, 2019, ACTRA attended the Actor Educators Conference, organized by Got Your Back (GYB). This conference brought together acting instructors from across the country and engaged them in unprecedented discussions on issues such harassment, mental health, intersectionality and working conditions. ACTRA contributed by sponsoring the event, providing resources and speakers to the conference.
Training and Education
Some ACTRA staff and members have received training in Mental Health First Aid. We launched a new webpage with Mental Health Support Services on the ACTRA Toronto website to coincide with Bell Let’s Talk day (January 31, 2019).
ACTRA continues to be a frequently sought-after speaker on issues of harassment in the entertainment industry. Special Advisor, Victoria Shen, spoke at the Osgoode Certificate in Entertainment Law (February 25 – March 1, 2019); the Law Society of Ontario – Symposium on Entertainment and Media Law (May 2-3, 2019); NOMFA (Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards) in Sudbury (May 23-25, 2019) and the Actor Educators Conference by GYB (May 27-28, 2019).