March 12, 2020

Ottawa urged to support entertainment workers impacted by COVID-19

Entertainment unions CWA Canada, IATSE, ACTRA and DGC are calling on the federal government to extend EI supports to all workers impacted by the pandemic, including the many workers in our sector who are not classified as employees. The following letter was just sent to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Inclusion, Disability Inclusion.

March 12, 2020
The Honourable Patty Hadju
Minister of Health
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Employment, Workforce Inclusion, Disability Inclusion
Dear Ministers:
We are writing on behalf of workers in the entertainment industry who would be left out of the EI supports announced today as part of the COVID-19 response package.
Many in our industry are not classified as employees, and therefore not eligible for EI for any loss of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While we are pleased that you indicate income support for those workers will be ‘explored’, we urge you to take precise action in the coming days.
There have already been some cancellations of television productions and there are expected to be more. Production insurance is not covering cancellations related to COVID-19.
Workers who are signed to those shows rely on those contracts which can range from several days to several months.  The loss of that expected income would be devastating for many.
This industry is just one of many where workers are not defined as employees under the Canada Labour Code.  Your government has often stated that it intends to find ways to improve conditions for people who work in the ‘gig economy’.  Extending the $1 billion package for COVID-19 to cover all workers would be a tangible demonstration of that commitment.

Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA Canada; on behalf of the Fairness in Factual TV Campaign

John Lewis
Vice President, Canadian Region, IATSE

David Sparrow
President, ACTRA National

David Forget
National Executive Director, DGC