News

Advocacy Alert - Priorities for the 2021 Federal Budget

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August 7, 2020 - Equity has submitted five key recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance as part of its pre-budget consultations in advance of the upcoming budget. The Committee's pre-budget consultation process is an important means by which we can contribute to the development of federal budgetary policies to meet the needs of the Equity membership and the live performance sector.

It should be no surprise that the recommendations for 2021 are strongly influenced by the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the live performance industry. Our industry was one of the very first sectors to be shut down and will be one of the last to safely return to work.

Equity's pre-budget recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1 - Extend the CERB or institute an equivalent income support program (see Recommendation 3), until such time as government lifts all imposed crowd restrictions and live performance venues can safely reopen
  • Recommendation 2 - Implement a Universal Basic Income
  • Recommendation 3 - Expand the Employment Insurance (EI) program to include the self-employed, both as contributors and recipients
  • Recommendation 4 - Extend EI Regular Benefits, on a temporary basis, past the maximum claim period, until such time as government lifts all imposed crowd restrictions and live performance venues can safely reopen
  • Recommendation 5 - Allow Canadians with Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) accounts to make non-taxable, limited withdrawals and to repay these withdrawals over a defined period

Members are encouraged to read more about the rationale behind Equity's submission and more details on each recommendation.

Basic Dues Billing Delayed Beyond August 1

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July 24, 2020 - Due to the ongoing effect of COVID-19 on the live performance industry, Equity will not bill members for any basic owing dues on August 1. Instead, the basic dues billing will continue to be delayed until the many states of emergency prohibiting artists from being able to work in live performance are lifted and members are once again able to safely work under an Equity engagement contract.

Equity has also put the following measures in place to assist members during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Reduced the basic dues by $15 for every month until at least September or the many states of emergency have been lifted;
  • Extended the duration of initiation permit credits / apprentice credits that would otherwise expire by as many months as is required until the many states of emergency have been lifted; and
  • Not assessed any additional arrears penalties to a member if they currently have outstanding basic dues owing to the Association. Arrears will not be assessed until at least September or the many states of emergency have been lifted.

Equity is closely following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Public Health Authority recommendations. The health and safety of members is our paramount concern.

When basic dues billing recommences, members will be notified by EQUIFLASH and direct email, and will be provided with complete information about the manner in which basic dues will be collected.

Equity understands that members would appreciate a longer term plan regarding the payment of basic dues. Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic situation is too fluid to allow us to make such an announcement at this time. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

75,000 Canadian Artists Unite: It’s Time for a Basic Income

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July 16, 2020 - Today, artists, writers, technicians and performers are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to create a permanent basic income guarantee.

Link to: "A Public Letter from the Arts Community for a Basic Income Guarantee"

The pandemic's wrath on lives has been swift. Millions are still out of work, venues shuttered, and livelihoods lost. In this new precarious reality, poverty can become a reality for all of us, abruptly, without warning.

  • "As stakeholders of the arts and culture sector, we ask you to give Canadians the chance not only to survive, but to live."
  • "A Basic Income Guarantee would build on existing programs, including CERB, and provide financial security to meet people’s basic needs, regardless of their work status."

This public letter, signed and endorsed by many of the largest arts and culture organizations in Canada and many prominent talents, calls on the government to think outside the box and implement a "basic income program that guarantees an income floor to anyone in need."

In the pandemic’s wake, Canada can rise from the disease, hardships, and ruptures in social behaviour with a basic income. “The opportunity for change is here and now,” write the letter’s co-authors: Craig Berggold, Zainub Verjee and Clayton Windatt.

"It's time for a basic income," say Canadian talent from coast to coast to coast: from the North's Gwaandak Theatre, the Acadian artists in New Brunswick, the Conseil québécois du théâtre; Toronto's South Asian Visual Arts Centre; Alberta's celebrated Kehewin Native Dance Theatre; I.A.T.S.E.'s stage and film technicians; the Canadian Federation of Musicians, the visual artists of CARFAC, the francophone Fédération culturelle canadienne-françaiseCanadian Actors' Equity Association, to opera singer Adrianne Pieczonka, O.C., writer Judy Rebick, filmmaker John Greyson, and many more...

George Elliot Clarke, the 7th Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate composed On Basic Income for our campaign. The poem’s opening lines provide a dark glimpse of the solitude and unexpected hardship, through no fault of their own, felt by many Canadians.

Join the co-authors of the public letter at the webinar The Case for Basic Income for the Arts, on July 29th, at 2pm EST, hosted by Basic Income Calgary and Ontario Basic Income Network. [REGISTER HERE].

For more information visit: www.obin.ca/the_case_for_basic_income_for_the_arts

CTA Negotiations to Resume

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July 10, 2020 - Equity and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) have reached agreement on the format of negotiations and will resume bargaining for a new Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) online via Zoom meetings. Negotiations, suspended by mutual agreement during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, are set to recommence July 13, 2020.

Equity and PACT last met face-to-face in March 2020 during a mid-negotiation mediation on two specific issues brought forward by PACT. As is standard during collective bargaining, the mediation settlement will not be made public until the CTA negotiation successfully concludes. Pending a successful conclusion, the mediation settlement will form part of the final negotiated package presented to Equity members for ratification.

In addition, Equity and PACT have begun discussions about the creation and contents of a COVID specific Addendum to the CTA. The function of this Addendum will be to address contractual and health & safety concerns of both Associations' Members during the reopening of our collective industry.

The CTA negotiation team, led by Equity's Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan, will continue its work to ensure protection of all members' rights to work in safe, secure, reliable environments, in which to create onstage in Canada.

Bylaw Update - June 2020

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July 6, 2020 - Equity's Council encourages all members to be familiar with the rules that govern membership in our Association. Copies of the current Bylaws are available here

At its meeting of June 30, 2020, Council made an amendment to bylaws adopting an extension to the Special Resolution setting aside the filing deadline for complaints involving workplace violence, discrimination, harassment or reprisal, as defined in the Association’s Respectful Workspace Policy. A new two-year period begins July 6, 2020. 

Special Resolution

From July 6, 2020 for a period of two years, there shall be no deadline for complaints filed under Article 35(i), following which time the deadline expressed in Article 39(a)(ii) will apply, including retroactively. Further, recognizing that Council may be asked to consider an unusual number of complaints as a result of this special resolution, complaints filed under this special resolution are recognized as an “extraordinary circumstance” under the terms of Article 45; both Council and staff will attend to them as expeditiously as possible, and the timeline for completion in Article 44 is automatically extended as needed to ensure that each complaint receives a fair and thorough process.

Simply put, the Special Resolution means that a member may bring forward a complaint related to an incident that occurred as far back as when Canadian Actors' Equity Association was founded (April 1, 1976), provided an alleged perpetrator is (or was) an Equity member and the incident occurred while working under an Equity contract.

Please note: Council is planning to pass a comprehensive update to bylaws concerning disciplinary complaints at its August 24, 2020 meeting. The extension beginning July 6, 2020 will continue to apply to this amended disciplinary complaint process.

Regarding this Special Resolution, Council President Scott Bellis says "As with anything related to safe and respectful workspaces, I encourage members to contact a Respectful Workspace Advisor (RWA) who will assist you in determining your best course of action as a result of this change and/or the pending changes. Email notinOURspace@caea.com or call 1-800-387-1856 (416-867-9165 in Toronto). Please feel free to let me know if you have any other questions or concerns about Council actions in this area by writing to president@caea.com."

For further information, or for copies of Equity's Constitution and Bylaws, please consult www.caea.com or email communications@caea.com for assistance.

May Basic Dues Billing Delay Extended Beyond July 1

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June 29, 2020 - On April 24, Equity announced that the May 1 basic dues would be delayed until at least July. 

Due to the ongoing effect of COVID-19 on the live performance industry, Equity will not bill members for basic dues on July 1. Instead, the billing will continue to be delayed until the many states of emergency prohibiting artists from being able to work in live performance are lifted and members are once again able to safely work under an Equity engagement contract.

Equity is closely following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Public Health Authority recommendations very closely. The health and safety of members is our paramount concern.

When basic dues billing recommences, members will be notified by direct email and provided with complete information about the manner in which basic dues will be collected.

Special Council Meeting on June 9 Synopsis

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June 25, 2020 - In response to an urgent need for discussion about the state of the live performance community in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement and personal stories shared through #inthedressingroom, Equity's national Council convened a special meeting on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. That day, 21 out of 23 Council members were able to attend the meeting. The meeting started with the invitation to Council members and staff to share thoughts and hopes for coming away from the meeting with specific actions.

My colleagues Council President Scott Bellis, First Vice-President Kerry Davidson, Secretary-Treasurer Erika Morey and I have created a synopsis of the meeting to share with all Equity members.

Yours in Equity,

Ryan G. Hinds
Ontario Councillor
Second Vice-President

Staying Warm - A Guide to Allyship in Action - June 29

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June 23, 2020 - Equity’s national Council invites Equity members to attend an online Council education session held as part of Council’s two-day June meeting. This information session has been opened up to members-at-large as part of Council’s ongoing commitment to dismantling systems of oppression within our Association and industry.

The Staying Warm: A Guide to Allyship in Action seminar will be presented by Jacquelyn Cardinal and Equity member Hunter Cardinal from the Naheyawin Centre. It approaches Indigenous allyship through action, courage and humility, and meaningful change. The Staying Warm A Guide to Allyship in Action presentation guidebook is available HERE

Date: Monday, June 29, 2020
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET
Platform: Online via Zoom webinar.

A video recording of the seminar is below. A transcript of the meeting is available here.

LifeWorks Launched

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June 22, 2020 - Equity has launched LifeWorks – the new self-directed platform from HR specialists Morneau Shepell that Equity is making available for members in good standing offering confidential support for your life, health, family, work and money.

President Scott Bellis says:
As we all know, a life dedicated to live performance has its ups and downs. When the downs are all around, it's great to have somewhere to turn for guidance and help. The LifeWorks platform will provide a new range of helpful resources for our members. I am so pleased to have our Association offer this service to our community.

Through articles, podcasts, videos, online toolkits, and interactive programs, LifeWorks is a 24/7 tool to help support our members through these challenging times.

Equity members in good standing will have received an email with instructions on how to access LifeWorks on June 21.

Equity Celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

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June 21, 2020 - National Indigenous Peoples Day is a time for Canadians to reflect and celebrate the rich heritage, diverse cultures, and significant contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who have lived on this land since time immemorial. This is a day to acknowledge and applaud the heritage, language, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs of these distinct groups.

Equity Council President Scott Bellis says: The formation of Equity's Indigenous Committee was one of the most satisfying actions I have seen at the Council table in my tenure as Council President. Indigenous First Nations, Métis and Inuit members of our performing arts community provide a much-needed voice that was not always represented within the circle of the national Council. Council's aim is to change that. We acknowledge our past, when Indigenous voices were absent from this Association and its agreements. We affirm our commitment to the reconciliation process and will continue to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous artists, based on recognition of rights, respect, and constructive partnership.

The Indigenous Committee will help us do better by making recommendations on how Equity can better serve/represent its members from Indigenous, Inuit and Métis communities; and by seeking ways to encourage representative Indigeneity onstage and in all related hiring within Equity's jurisdiction. 

Council invites Equity members to attend an online Council education session as part of Council’s ongoing commitment to dismantling systems of oppression within our Association and industry on Monday, June 29 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. The Staying Warm: A Guide to Allyship in Action seminar will be presented by Jacquelyn Cardinal and Equity member Hunter Cardinal from the Naheyawin Centre.

I personally invite all members to join Council at this session. Please keep an eye on your in-boxes for information on how to attend this event.

As we approach National Indigenous Peoples Day, on behalf of the national Council, I honour the distinct and vital voices of our Indigenous members.

Let me close by invoking Equity’s Equality Statement:

Equity embraces an open and inclusive environment and encourages respectful behaviour that affirms the dignity of all individuals. Equity further recognizes our shared responsibility for vigilance in creating and maintaining this environment. Any behaviour to the contrary will not be tolerated by the Association. Equity further recognizes a shared history with Indigenous First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada. In honour of those that have gone before us Equity commits to working toward understanding and actionable practises of reconciliation.

Arden R. Ryshpan to appear at Federal Standing Committee on Finance

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June 18, 2020 - Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan and John Morgan Lewis, International Vice-President and Director of Canadian Affairs for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), spoke before the federal Standing Committee on Finance about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Equity, IATSE and our live performance colleagues in the arts and culture sector.

The presentation included lost income estimates for the sector, the needs of the sector to survive during an almost total shutdown of our pan-Canadian industry, and outline sectoral support needed until the live performance sector can legally and safely resume its activities.

Arden's message to the Committee is below, or view the full 3-hour session here.

Save the Date: Staying Warm - A Guide to Allyship in Action - June 29

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Equity’s national Council invites Equity members to attend a Council education session held as part of Council’s two-day June meeting. This information session has been opened up to members-at-large as part of Council’s ongoing commitment to dismantling systems of oppression within our Association and industry.

The Staying Warm: A Guide to Allyship in Action seminar will be presented by Jacquelyn Cardinal and Equity member Hunter Cardinal from the Naheyawin Centre. It approaches Indigenous allyship through action, courage and humility, and meaningful change.

Date: Monday, June 29, 2020
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET
Platform: Online via Zoom webinar.

Registration link coming next week. Check www.caea.com for updates after June 21.

Prime Minister Announces CERB Extension

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June 16, 2020 - Today, the Government of Canada announced that the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be extended for a further eight weeks for Canadians who are still unable to return to work due to provinces and territories gradually reopening their economies. Details on eligibility criteria are pending, though members are encouraged to read the media release from the Prime Minister which provides some insight. Please watch media and Equity's news page for further announcements and updates in the coming days.

This extension of the CERB demonstrates that activism campaigns like Equity’s recent letter-writing campaign work. Many Equity members took the time to write to local MPs and we thank you for your efforts. These messages have filtered through and put pressure on Ottawa to act.

"On behalf of Equity and its members, we thank the Government of Canada’s ongoing efforts to ensure financial support for Canada’s artists." says Equity’s Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan. "We'd particularly like to thank all the MPs and government officials who took the time to meet with us or respond to our letters. Your support is greatly appreciated by our members."

Equity and its live performance coalition partners (IATSE, the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC)) will continue to press our government for the CERB and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to be kept active until such time as our industry is back on its feet.

Extending the CERB: Write to Your MP

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May 27, 2020 - Today, Equity is launching a grassroots member campaign to ask for Member of Parliament (MP) support to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Given the many current states of emergency still in place across the country, and corresponding bans on large public gatherings, it will be some time until the live performance industry makes a recovery. It is clear that the live performance sector is going to be one of the very last sectors to reopen. This prolonged closure seriously restricts Equity members' access to work opportunities and ability to earn income.

While the CERB has been a much-needed lifeline to our industry, many of our members will be reaching the end of their 16-week CERB eligibility by July 15, 2020.

Action Needed
Equity members need the CERB support to be extended beyond its current 16-week limit. Equity is We are working hard to lobby the government at the National level, but we need YOUR help to gain grassroots support from your local Members of Parliament.

Here’s How YOU Can Help
Visit Equity’s Extending the CERB – Write to your MP page. Use the ‘Find your local MP’ button to find the contact details for your representative in Parliament.

Email them using the letter template provided. You might also phone them and tell them your concerns. There are also suggestions of how to personalize the template letter to strengthen your appeal.

Time is of the essence. Take action this week and make sure your representative is aware of your needs and the needs of our live performance sector.

Full details, template letter and link to ‘Find your local MP'

Together we can make a difference.

#EquityStrong

Statement and Motion from Equity Council's Special Meeting of June 9, 2020

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June 9, 2020 - Equity convened a special meeting on June 9 to discuss the current state of our community in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and commit to action in response to the urgent needs of the membership. We acknowledge these commitments to action are a beginning, the first steps of many we can take now and should have taken prior. Equity promises to do better for our membership, including our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members whose bravery, courage, and trauma have created a seismic shift in our sector. We gratefully acknowledge the work and commitment of the BIPOC members, Councillors, and staff before us. Black Lives Matter.

After our meeting this morning, here are four actions that we commit to right now.

1. COUNCIL MOTION
Council unanimously passed the following motion at its special meeting today:

Council tasks the Council Officers to create a statement on behalf of the membership to condemn and advocate for the abolishment of "As Cast" practices.

Statement:
Council and staff condemn in strongest terms the practice of "As Cast". Although included in the CTA, ITA, and Stratford Addendum as means of fluidly casting during the rehearsal process, "As cast" casting is repeatedly used by engagers to reinforce oppressive structures and abuse artists' identities. We have heard how the practice removes agency from our membership, and we have seen the racial harm of "As Cast" to our BIPOC membership in practice. We see the intersecting ways that "As Cast" perpetuates stereotypes and silences our membership. The industry must respect the voices and the agencies of our racialized members, and abolishing "As Cast" is a commitment towards the lifting up of the voices and agencies of our BIPOC membership.

Ryan G. Hinds, 2nd Vice President
Scott Bellis, Council President
Erika Morey, Secretary-Treasurer
Kerry Davidson, 1st Vice President

2. CODE OF CONDUCT
Equity's Safe and Respectful Workspace Policy is clear on issues of discrimination. We commit to continue updating and re-releasing our policies, including our Not in Our Space! materials, in order to ensure that our working practices and places of work are safe and respectful with clear guidelines for what to do when a situation occurs. The safety of our membership and the commitment to ensuring safe and respectful workplaces for our BIPOC members is paramount; this is a never-ending commitment that we keep affirming. The recently adopted Equity Member Standards of Professional Conduct is available here. As an Association, we are committed to doing better.

3. ALLYSHIP IN ACTION: Indigeneity Workshop in June 2020
The Indigenous Committee, chaired by Councillors Michaela Washburn and Valerie Planche have been generous in helping Council have the tools to do the work of listening and learning. Council's two day meeting in June includes the workshop Allyship in Action, led by Naheyawin's Hunter and Jacquelyn Cardinal. We are opening it up to the membership for several reasons: for the extremely valuable, necessary, and relevant teachings it offers and for the membership to know where Council's learning is. Details on accessing the workshop will be communicated soon.

4. CONTINUING OUR WEBINAR SERIES: Anti-Oppression
Equity commits that the next of our ongoing Webinar series will be dedicated to Anti-Oppression training. The planning for this session will be led by staff and our BIPOC Councillors, and will be in line with the format of our previous webinars. We look forward to a more fulsome release of details soon.

In coming days, there will be a synopsis of the meeting communicated to the membership via EQUIFLASH and/or Council Connect, and the minutes of the meeting will be available. Equity has heard requests for transcripts; due to the sensitive and personal nature of the discussion (which included confidential information), some BIPOC Councillors were not comfortable with a transcription release, so between a synopsis and the minutes, we are confident that an accurate, truthful, and detailed description of the meeting will be available shortly.

Equity Council would like to reinforce that the action items cited here represent only the very first steps we commit to taking. The work of dismantling systems of oppression within our Association and industry is well beyond the scope of a two-hour meeting and we commit to that work. We commit to pursuing long-term, radical action with transparency and guidance from our membership. Your Council can be contacted here: and staff can be contacted here.

The meeting was attended by: Van Abrahams, Deena Aziz, Karen Bassett, Maev Beaty, Joshua Beaudry, Scott Bellis, Kerry Davidson, Donna Fletcher, Ryan G. Hinds, Richard Lam, Ian Leung, Geoff McBride, Peter McGillivray, Nora McLellan, Erika Morey, Kristina Nicoll, Melissa Novecosky, Valerie Planche, Diane Speirs, Michaela Washburn, Jennifer Wigmore, and staff representatives Arden R. Ryshpan, Steven Sparling, Maz Magoris and Elona Naqo.

Tom Jackson Appears at the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs

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June 12, 2020 - On behalf of his Equity member colleagues, we thank Mr. Tom Jackson for using his powerful voice to speak up to government to ensure financial support to Canada’s artists. His appearance this week at the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs as a spokesperson for the Creative Coalition (live performance industry) was greatly appreciated and highly effective. The coalition will continue to press our government for the extension of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) until such time as our members can safely return to our workplaces. Media release can be found here.

Special Council Meeting - June 9

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June 6, 2020 - Equity's Council has convened an emergency meeting for this Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Council has been listening to the personal stories of members, both away from and #inthedressingroom. We recognize an urgent need to discuss the current state of our community in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement and commit to any actions we might take as an organization to respond to the needs of our membership. 

LifeWorks: Coming Soon to Equity

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June 3, 2020 - In light of the critical discussion happening in Canadian theatre regarding systemic racism and Black Lives Matter, Equity is postponing the LifeWorks launch, previously announced for June 10th, so as not to distract from the current conversation. LifeWorks is an online platform accessible via website or smartphone app that supports all aspects of your wellbeing: mental, physical, financial, and social. LifeWorks includes articles, toolkits, audio recordings, including meditations, and more. The LifeWorks content will accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We will shortly announce a relaunch date.

Money Matters: Online Information Meeting June 3, 2:00 p.m. ET (Special Guests)

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Join Council President Scott Bellis and Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan at Equity’s seventh online video meeting looking at your personal finances in these challenging and uncertain times.

Recently, Financial Health came up as one of three top concerns of our members right now. We heard you, and we are dedicating our next Online Member Meeting to helping manage your personal finances more effectively.

Topics for discussion include: how to plan and manage cash flow, how to determine expenses, how to cut expenses, how to create a draw-down strategy, when to consider debt, how to consider the pros/cons of drawing from RRSPs and how to clean up your tax record with the Canadian Revenue Agency. Our special guests to guide us on this financial exploration are:

Chris Enns – Opera Singer and Financial Planner 
Chris’s mission is ‘helping creatives and other money ‘misfits’ build financial stability’ and he does this through coaching and DIY tools on his website Rags to Reasonable. Chris has built his practice for people with variable income, hard to predict expenses, and no built-in safety net.

(Expense Worksheet and Money Matters - Chris Enns Outline)

 

Tova Epp – Actor and Senior Tax Preparer
Tova Epp is a tax preparer/actor/wildlife rehabilitator-in-training. She’s been working at Artbooks, the cosy tax office for artists, for 12 years, preparing the tax returns of many diverse and exciting artists from across the country. She holds a BFA with Distinction from Concordia University.

Date: Wednesday, June 3 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Online Zoom webinar

Video recording of the meeting is available below.

Council Elects New First Vice-President for a Two-year Term

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May 28, 2020 - At its meeting of Monday, May 25, 2020, Equity's National Council elected Councillor Kerry Davidson (B.C. and Yukon), as First Vice-President for a two-year (2020-2022) term. Her term is effective as of this announcement. She takes over this position from Councillor Peter McGillivray who will remain on Council representing the Eastern Opera electoral region and continue to serve in several Committee assignments.

Kerry served on Council from 2003 to 2015 as a B.C. and Yukon region Councillor, and in this capacity, served as Equity’s Treasurer, First Vice-President, and volunteered on a number of committees including RRSP/Insurance, Finance Monitoring, Honours, Diversity, and Member Outreach. "I am very honoured to have been elected as First Vice-President, and thank Peter McGillivray for having served the members so well for the past two years. These are challenging times, to say the least, and I am proud of the work that Equity is doing to make sure our members and our industry come through this stronger and better than ever. I look forward to continuing the work ahead to make sure that happens."

Commenting on the election, Council President Scott Bellis said "I'd first like to extend a huge amount of gratitude to Peter as outgoing First Vice-President for helping to keep the internal operations of Council running smoothly. He stepped into the role two years ago and has worked with a diligent, collaborative and willing spirit, especially on the Council Education and Renewal Committee. I look forward to seeing him continue to represent the members of the Eastern Opera Region and push forward with his efforts on the Senior Artist Support Task Force."

Scott continued "I am extremely pleased to welcome Kerry Davidson as First Vice-President, a role she knows extremely well, having held it from 2006 to 2015. Kerry will bring thoughtfulness, experience, and a deep knowledge of Equity's governance process to her role. Kerry is a Councillor for the BC/Yukon Region, and is currently active on the Complaint and Disciplinary Process Task Force, the Finance Monitoring Committee and recently served on the Honours Committee. I look forward to working with her in her capacity as an Officer of Council. Welcome Kerry!"

Councillor Kerry Davidson may be reached at vicepresident1@caea.com and Councillor Peter McGillivray may be reached at PeterM@caea.com.

Equity Council Officers and Councillors may be reached here.

COVID-19 Advocacy Update from Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan

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May 22, 2020 - As a result of the impact on the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Government has created a number of programs to support both individuals and organizations. The two programs that have the most impact on the live performance sector are the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) designed to provide income replacement to independent contractors, and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) designed to assist employers in keeping their employees on the payroll. Additionally, loans have been made available to small businesses (including single-proprietor owned businesses) and an as yet to be tested program providing commercial rent reductions is going into effect on May 25.

Knowing that these programs, while helpful, were insufficient to provide for the needs of the arts and culture sector, Equity, along with our colleagues at IATSE, the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC) formed a coalition to seek additional supports.

Those requests include, among others, the easement of restrictions on the ability of companies to access money in their endowments, amending the Income Tax Act to allow ticket purchases for live performance to be treated as charitable donations, and to increase funding to the Canada Council for the Arts.

As a result of industry-wide concern, the Federal Government allocated $500M for an Emergency Support Fund for Cultural Heritage and Sport Organizations. Of that money, $55M is going directly to the Canada Council and another $198M is to be distributed through other existing arts and culture programs.

This money is specifically targeted at organizations in order to support their operations and is not intended to provide project or production funds. While direct funding to individual artists is not a part of this package, this support will help ensure there will be a live performance sector to return to in future.

Our coalition meets regularly (and is in almost daily email contact) and has been having meetings with MPs from all parties, with senior officials at Canadian Heritage and with Simon Brault, Director of the Canada Council. We have written letters to elected officials and senior administrators with our concerns and have provided them with the estimates of lost earnings, which are in excess of $25M a month for all our members combined.

The coalition continues to press the Canadian Government for a response on our other recommendations. We have also expressed the concern that while the Emergency Support Fund monies will see our engagers through this difficult period it will not be adequate to support the engagement of our members once social distancing restrictions are lifted. There is an understanding that there will need to be another influx of funding in order to reboot the industry when the time comes, but no decisions have been made as to how much money there might be or when it might come.

Our current priority is to ensure that both the CERB and the CEWS continue for at least as long as our sector is mandated to stay closed by government order. There is a general recognition by all of our government contacts that live performance was indeed the first sector to close down 100% and will, unfortunately, be the last to return, placing us in a unique position in the overall economy. It is essential that the CERB be extended beyond the current 16 weeks limits for an individual and available until the live performance sector can reasonably resume activities. It would be patently unfair to cut off this lifeline while telling us we cannot return to work.

The coalition is meeting with an ever-growing list of bureaucrats and MPs building support to extend the CERB. We are also making application to appear at all government Standing Committees that are currently holding hearings, in order to express the concerns of our sector. We have asked a higher profile member from each of our organizations to be available to speak to the various Committees, if a request to appear is granted. These committees are made up of members from each party who are interested in the particular ministry, and appearing before a Standing Committee is a very effective way of having issues brought to the highest levels of government.

Equity and its coalition partners will continue to urge the Government to extend the CERB at the federal level; while members can make a difference getting this same message out locally. Next week Equity will launch a grassroots advocacy letter campaign asking members to write their local MPs pressing for a CERB extension. Look for details on www.caea.com mid-next week.

In addition to our advocacy activities, Equity is working with our colleagues here in Canada (including the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) as well as our international colleagues to begin to develop a set of return to work protocols that both keep everyone safe and allow the work to be done. Unfortunately, until such time as there is a readily available vaccine, we are likely going to see a difference in how the work will get on the stage. Our adherence to the protocols (when they come into place) will be essential to ensure the health and safety of everyone we work with.

As long as the pandemic continues to impact the live performance sector, Equity shall work with our industry colleagues to ensure that our concerns are heard at the highest levels of government.

In solidarity,

Arden R. Ryshpan
Executive Director

#EquityStrong

Online COVID-19 Information Meeting May 20, 2:00 p.m. ET (Special Guests)

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Join Council President Scott Bellis and Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan at Equity’s sixth online video meeting about the health and safety requirements needed to open up the live performance sector post COVID-19.

This meeting opens what will be an ongoing dialogue between Equity and its membership on this topic.

Special Guests include Janet Sellery - Health and Safety Consultant, Sellery Health and Safety (ON), Don Parman - Manager, Performing Arts Programs and Services at Actsafe Safety Association (BC), and members Tracey Flye - freelance director/choreographer, Erika Morey - Equity Stage Management Councillor and freelance stage manager, Jenna Savella - Equity Dance Councillor and First Soloist with the National Ballet of Canada, and Diane Speirs - Equity Western Opera Councillor, singer/conductor/teacher and member of the Vancouver Opera Chorus, provide some sector-specific personal viewpoints.

Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Online video meeting via the Internet (Zoom webinar)

Video recording of the meeting is embedded below.

A transcription of the meeting is available HERE.

Bridging the Social Distance: Member-to-Member Outreach

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May 11, 2020 - The impact of COVID-19 puts undeniable strain on the Equity community and individual member's mental health.

In light of this, Equity's Mental Health & Wellness Task Force, with the support of Equity’s national Council, is launching an initiative to connect one-on-one with members across the country in need of support during this time of isolation. In the coming weeks Councillors and Task Force colleagues will be phoning members across the country to check-in, lend an ear, and connect members to helpful resources.

Our capacity is limited, so we will be prioritizing more senior members. However, any member is welcome to opt-in for a phone check-in. There are no criteria for opting-in beyond a desire to have someone from Council or the Task Force reach out. Follow-up check-ins may be scheduled for the remainder of mandated social isolation.

If you would like to receive a check-in, or know someone who could benefit from a check-in, please email outreach@caea.com with your contact information.

If you are interested in volunteering on this initiative, please get in touch with the Task Force at outreach@caea.com.

Online Meeting May 20: What Do You Need to Feel Safe About Returning to Work?

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In certain regions of Canada restrictions on social gatherings are starting to be eased and some businesses are starting to cautiously reopen.

Equity is asking what our sector will need to do the same. While we are all eager to get back to our audition, rehearsal and performance spaces, health and safety requirements will be a necessary consideration to keep everyone safe and healthy in the workplace.

Equity's next online member information session will be a forum for the Association to start a conversation with its membership to understand what members will need to feel safe about returning to work. Special guests Janet Sellery from Sellery Health and Safety (ON) and Don Parman from Actsafe Safety Association (BC) will be on hand to lead our discussion.

  • Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
  • Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Online Zoom webinar. Registration will open May 13.*

ASL interpretation will be provided.

Save the date and join in the conversation!

* Please note: Only Equity members in good standing may attend. Transcription and a video recording of the meeting will be made available to all members as soon as possible after the meeting takes place.

Allocation of Canadian Heritage’s $500M COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund Announced

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May 8, 2020 - Earlier today, the federal Minister of Heritage Steven Guilbeault announced details regarding the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations, including allocation of the previously announced $500M across the arts and culture, heritage, and sport sectors.

Equity understands that the Emergency Support Fund is intended to be an additional temporary relief measure to help alleviate the financial pressures of cultural, heritage and sport organizations facing significant losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is meant to complement measures already announced by the Government (e.g., Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy etc.).

The Fund's objectives are:

  • to maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose cash flow and short-term operational viability have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • to stabilize a sector that is a major driver of the Canadian economy.

The Government of Canada's Emergency Support Fund acknowledges that the arts, culture and heritage sectors play an essential role in Canadian society and are also major drivers of the Canadian economy. The funding recognizes that these sectors require additional COVID-19 response measures as they are more vulnerable to market failure, and face barriers to accessing the already announced Government of Canada measures due to factors such as the cyclical nature of revenues, high rates of self-employment and contract work, and difficulty accessing credit.

"We support implementation of this funding so that the live performance sector infrastructure is maintained and ready to re-open when the COVID-19 states of emergency are lifted and Equity members can begin to return to work." said Equity's Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan. "While direct funding to individual artists is not a part of this package, this support will go a long way to ensuring there will be a live performance sector to return to in future. In the interim, Equity will continue its advocacy work representing the financial and creative needs of Equity members, making sure no individual artist is left behind." Ryshpan continued.

Arts, culture and heritage sector funding will be administered by Canadian Heritage and allocated as follows:

  • Up to $326.8 million to be distributed by Canadian Heritage, of which 198.3 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding through existing programs as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs; and
  • $55 million to be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts to help arts organizations that support artists.

COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations media release | Backgrounder

e-Drive Reopens for Audition Submissions on May 6

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May 1, 2020 - e-Drive, Equity's popular audition email list service, is once again accepting audition submissions as of Wednesday, May 6. At this time, e-Drive will not be accepting workshop/ticket promotions.

In order to accommodate the drastically changing audition and production landscape in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Equity offers the following:

Given the current requirement for social distancing as a result of the COVID-19, Equity is waiving the restrictions on recorded auditions in all of its agreements and engagement policies on a time limited basis.

Theatres that are intending to hold auditions for future productions may request that Artists provide them with a recorded audition or may arrange to do their audition by alternate methods such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts or other similar tools which allow for visual and audio communication in real time.

Once the restrictions on travel and congregating in public are lifted, we would encourage engagers to return to face-to-face auditions as soon as it is feasible.
 

Visit the e-Drive audition submission form and posting guidelines page to make a submission. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff team is working reduced hours remotely. The submission review process may take longer than usual. Please refer to the e-Drive guidelines when considering your submission.

Online COVID-19 Information Meeting May 4, 2:00 p.m. ET (Special Guests)

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Equity is holding a fifth online video meeting with Council President Scott Bellis and special guests and mental health experts Stephanie Kersta MSc RP and Carolyn Plater MSW RSW, who will share valuable information on building and strengthening resiliency during COVID-19.

Date: Monday, May 4, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Online video meeting via the Internet (Zoom webinar)

Video recording of the meeting is embedded below.

PART 1/2 (Discussion):

PART 2/2 (Meditation):

Meeting Resources

Contract Termination Fees Owing to Artists Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

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May 1, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the live performance industry, and the various states of emergency and/or physical distancing requirements have forced the cancellation of many productions, before, mid-rehearsal or during performances. As a result, many Equity members have had their contracts terminated and are owed payment in accordance with the applicable agreement or engagement policy.

Any Artist who believes that payment for termination of an engagement contract has not been made, or that there is a discrepancy in the amount owed, should contact Equity by email to busrep@caea.com. Equity members should state their name and the name of the production in the email subject line.

Questions regarding the production cancellation and/or contract termination process may also be emailed to busrep@caea.com.

International Dance Day 2020

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Equity wishes all of its members a happy International Dance Day!

In 1982 the Dance Committee of ITI founded International Dance Day to be celebrated annually on April 29, the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), creator of modern ballet. Every year a message from an outstanding choreographer or dancer is translated into numerous languages and circulated globally.

A message from Equity's Executive Director, Arden R. Ryshpan:
On behalf of all of the dancers in Equity's membership, we wish dancers around the world a happy International Dance Day. Normally, there would be a variety of activities scheduled to celebrate the beauty of dance and to offer opportunities for professional dancers and those who love to dance to come together to express their emotions though moving their bodies. Fortunately, this is still possible, even with the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in today. The old adage "Dance like no one is watching you" rings more true than ever, as many of us shelter in place. Even if you are not alone, encourage the people you are with to crank up the music and give in to the joy of dancing for the sheer personal pleasure of it.


The 2020 international message is issued by Gregory Vuyani MAQOMA, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, Dance Educator.

May Basic Dues Billing Delayed until at Least July 1, 2020

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April 24, 2020 - Equity has introduced some immediate measures to assist members during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures have now been extended until at least July 1, 2020 (June previously announced).

Effective immediately Equity has:

  • Delayed the May 1 basic dues billing until at least July or until the many states of emergency have been lifted. Scheduled automatic withdrawal from a debit card or payment on a credit card on May 1 will be delayed accordingly;
  • Reduced the basic dues by $15 for every month until at least July or the many states of emergency have been lifted;
  • Extended the duration of initiation permit credits / apprentice credits that would otherwise expire by at least two months or as many months as it is until the many states of emergency have been lifted; and
  • Not assessed any additional arrears penalties to a member if they currently have any outstanding basic dues owing to the Association. Arrears will not be assessed until at least July or the many states of emergency have been lifted.

Note: Equity is following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Public Health Authority recommendations very closely. The health and safety of members is our paramount concern at present.

When basic dues billing recommences, members will be notified by direct email and provided with a date to expect automatic withdrawal from a debit card or payment on a credit card to take place.

Equity Financial Update from the Council President and Executive Director

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April 22, 2020 - Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Equity has been working to keep the membership up-to-date on issues of importance, including production cancellation and contract termination interpretations, advocacy initiatives and available information on government programs that would benefit you.

Today, we want to tell you what Equity is doing internally to manage its own operations during this pandemic.

Early in March, senior staff began the development of an emergency plan should the situation in Canada escalate. On March 17, following a herculean effort to assess and update laptops and home computers for a core group of key employees, to protect our staff and respond to provincial emergency orders, we shut the physical National and Western offices. Equity has been operating virtually since our first membership meeting via Zoom.

Almost immediately thereafter, decisions were made on how best to continue to offer services to the members at a time when Equity, like all of you, is receiving no income. Our entire source of revenue is dues. We receive no government grants of any kind and only some moderate interest on investments. We estimate that revenues are down $250K for each month of the shutdown.

Over 20 years ago, a very concerned (and visionary) group of Councillors and staff determined that Equity should establish a "stabilization" fund, a piggy bank of sorts that could be relied on in times of trouble. Thanks to that foresight, Equity will be able to maintain basic member services throughout the period of physical distancing and industry shutdown, as well during the unknown amount of time it will take to rebuild the live performance sector.

However, we have no intention of emptying that piggybank. That would be irresponsible. We have now completed a comprehensive overhaul of our planned budget to match the financial reality in our industry imposed by the pandemic. We have pared expenses to the bone but even this is not enough. Therefore, we want to let you know that there have been staff layoffs and that the remaining Equity staff will see a reduction in salary and benefits for at least six months and longer if necessary. As a result of managing these reductions, members may find that all remaining staff will not be available to you five days a week.

Council is also taking measures to be financially responsible, while continuing to work on your behalf during these difficult times: Council meetings will be moving to an online format for its June meeting, and possibly beyond, some of its newer projects will be postponed, etc. as work on other initiatives, such as the Mental Health and Senior Artist surveys, continues.

While we are hoping to take advantage of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a salary benefit offered by the Federal Government as a way to reduce our reliance on our stabilization fund, it is likely that the layoffs will be permanent as we do not foresee a return to previous production levels for some time.

Our primary focus is to be available to the membership and the engagers as everyone unwinds their current productions and to be here to provide contract assistance when production ramps up again. Our second priority is advocacy, ensuring that the live performance sector is well accounted for in federal and provincial creative industry rebuilding programs.

Our online membership meetings via Zoom will continue every other week for the next month or two, or as long as we have new or important information and support to offer. If you miss a meeting, a video recording and transcript are posted as soon as possible after the meeting. As well, we will provide information by either EQUIFLASH or by direct email, so please make sure that we have your current email address on file. If you or someone you know is not enrolled to receive EQUIFLASH, please encourage them to sign up.

Lastly, we urge you all to listen to your local authorities with respect to requirements for physical distancing or sheltering in place. The more cooperative we all are with these requirements now, the sooner we will all be able to resume our regular lives and work. The arts are essential to our quality of life and we see many people turning to the arts for entertainment and solace during this extraordinary time in our history. It gives us hope that this experience will create greater recognition of the importance of the arts in society, resulting in a renewed vigour for our sector when we are able to gather together again.

Please stay safe and healthy.

Scott Bellis
Council President

Arden R. Ryshpan
Executive Director

Online COVID-19 Information Meeting April 22, 2:00 p.m. ET (Special Guest)

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Equity is holding a fourth online video meeting with Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan and special guest Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts.

Online Zoom COVID-19 video information meeting for Equity members-only
Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Online  video meeting via the Internet (Zoom webinar)

Video recording of the meeting is embedded below.

A transcript of the meeting is now available HERE.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Updates Announced

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April 15, 2020 - Today the news came that many Equity members have been waiting for. Prime Minister Trudeau announced in this morning's briefing that individuals can earn up to $1000 per month and still remain eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). 

Equity recently wrote to the Prime Minister and other Senior Ministers explaining that many of our members were finding creative ways to earn small amounts of money while theatre, dance and opera companies were shut down, but this moderate supplementary income was making them ineligible for the CERB support they require to survive. 

Equity is heartened by Mr. Trudeau’s shout out to artists in Canada and the cultural contributions they are making. He also acknowledged  their suffering from being unable to work. We are pleased that the announced changes to the CERB mirror our advocacy effort and better reflect the realities of our members’ gig-working patterns.

Additionally, for any Stage Manager members who have or will run out of EI benefits, the government also announced you are now eligible to apply for the CERB. 

Finally, there was an announcement of new Government of Canada mental health supports including a new portal entitled Wellness Together Canada and a COVID-19 app for Canadians who are feeling the pressure of these current social distancing requirements.

You can watch a recording of Prime Minister Trudeau’s speech on the CBC website.

Deadline to Register to Vote in 2020 CTA Ratification is April 15

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April 3, 2020 - Negotiations for the Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) between Equity and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) will continue in 2020. According to the 2019 Agreement of Continuance signed by Equity and PACT, the CTA will stay in force while the parties continue to negotiate the Agreement. To that end, Equity and PACT have three upcoming mediation dates scheduled March 11-13, 2020. Equity members are advised to continue to provide service under CTA contracts as usual.

In anticipation of the successful conclusion of CTA negotiations in 2020, and in accordance with Bylaw 106, Equity members who are not automatically enumerated may now register to vote in the upcoming CTA ratification.

A Regular or Life Equity member is automatically enumerated to vote if they are a member in good standing AND were engaged under the CTA or another theatre agreement or policy (Artists' Collective Policy and Festival Policy excepted) between April 30, 2014 and April 30, 2020). This criteria is in accordance with Equity Bylaw 106(a)(iii).

Any Regular or Life Equity member may register to vote if they are not already automatically enumerated AND they are a member in good standing. This criteria is in accordance with Equity Bylaw 106(c).

CTA RATIFICATION VOTING REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN. Visit this page to verify or amend your registration (login required)The registration period will close Sunday, April 15, 2020.

Please note: All members must be in good standing during the CTA ratification voting period to receive and cast a ballot. Check your current membership status here.

Please contact Equity at communications@caea.com for further information regarding CTA ratification voter registration.

Whistleblower Research Project Response

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April 14, 2020 - Researchers from the Centre for Free Expression (CFE) at Ryerson University would like to thank all participants who recently took part in the Whistleblower Research Project. York University's Institute for Social Research, which conducted the survey, reports that the final number of respondents who completed the survey was 870 representing a response rate of 31.2%. The survey was in the field for four weeks and was sent to 2,790 Equity members, in good standing, who worked under an Equity contract of longer than two weeks over the past two years. It closed March 31.

The CFE research team begins analyzing the survey data mid-April. Once complete, they will prepare a report for Equity and its membership, as well as subsequently write academic papers on the project. The CFE is committed to working with Equity to use the survey findings to create effective safe workplace policies and practices.

Online COVID-19 Information Meeting April 8, 2:00 p.m. ET (Special Guests)

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Equity is holding a third online video meeting with Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan and special guests MP Julie Dabrusin (Toronto-Danforth), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, David Hope, Executive Director, The AFC and Gord Lewis, President, MBA, Proteus Performance.

Online Zoom COVID-19 video information meeting for Equity members-only
Date: Wednesday, March 8, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Online  video meeting via the Internet (Zoom webinar)

Video recording of the meeting is embedded below.

A transcript of the meeting is now available HERE.

Bylaw Update - March 2020

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April 14, 2020 - Equity's Council encourages all members to be familiar with the rules that govern membership in our Association. Electronic copies of the current Bylaws are available on www.caea.com. Please note: During the closure of Equity's offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, print format versions are not currently available.

At its meeting of March 30, 2020, Council made two amendments to the Association's bylaws.

Article 141.1: NEW. This article will prevent any changes to bylaws relating to the Council election and/or the election of the Officers of Council within a 12 month period prior to the election.

Article 20(a)(iii): NEW. This article provides apprentice stage managers who have not completed training at an accredited college, university or conservatory program with another opportunity to earn an education credit. Stage managers who have completed their first registered apprenticeship may now retroactively apply for an additional credit in recognition of receipt of a certificate of completion from the SMArts - Stage Managing the Arts training program.

CERB Applications Open & Equity's Advocacy

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April 7, 2020 - As Equity members are likely aware, Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) applications opened yesterday. We have received reports that the application process is simple and straightforward and only requires applicants to answer a few easy questions. Applications are being spread over the week based on the month you were born. Details on this, as well as information on eligibility and the application process, can be found on the on the federal Government's comprehensive CERB webpage. There is also detailed guidance available from CBC's website.

In the Prime Minister's daily briefing on Monday, April 6, he spoke to Canadians who currently fall between the cracks of financial aid. He specifically mentioned gig workers, those who are working under 10 hours per week, and those earning only a few hundred dollars a month, who may be ineligible for the CERB. The Prime Minister said that they were aware of the needs of these Canadians and they would be making further announcements about this in coming days.

As soon as the details on the CERB applications were made public last week, Equity wrote to the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, to point out that many of our members may not be eligible to apply for the CERB because they are earning small amounts of money, even though the majority of their income is gone. Therefore, it is encouraging to see that the needs of our industry are being heard and the government is responding.

We will continue to advocate to ensure that live performance and its workers can survive this pandemic and our industry can come back to life when we can once again return to the theatres.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Announced

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March 30, 2020 - On March 25, Prime Minister Trudeau announced new plans for economic support for Canadians that are unable to work due to COVID-19 - including the self-employed. Please check out this government news release and this reporting from the CBC about the Government's newly announced Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. These links will help Equity members understand how they can directly seek assistance from the government in this challenging period. New information regarding this support will be added/updated as needed on our Advocacy and Resource Links webpage. (Please note:  The COVID-19 situation continues to change rapidly and Equity is doing its best to give members timely and accurate information. We appreciate members' patience in this regard.)

April 2, 2020 - UPDATE: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html.

UNIFOR provides further clarification on CERB in their CERB FAQ.

Equity's Support and Advocacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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March 27, 2020PHYSICAL OFFICES CLOSED: To protect our staff and in response to mandatory closure orders, Equity's two 'physical' offices have now closed until further notice. A reduced team of Equity staff is working remotely to provide essential service. (learn more)

RESOURCE PAGE: Equity has created a list of organizations, activities, and links that are aimed at assisting artsworkers in live performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. An archive of Equity's own updates and activities are available on this page as well. Finally, please check the news page for the most recent updates.

World Theatre Day 2020

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March 27, 2020 - This year, World Theatre Day falls in the midst of a global pandemic crisis, which has shut down every theatre in Canada and most of the theatres around the world. To have every theatre dark on World Theatre Day is deeply depressing and even a bit frightening, as we have no idea when we will be able to resume work.

But … what we do know is that theatre has survived plagues, fires, natural disasters, wars, insurrections and coups, and any number of other disasters, man-made or otherwise, for the better part of two thousand years. We've even survived the advent of movies, television and the Internet! Audiences crave the connection that comes from sharing a live experience and we can expect them to be back.

So, this year, instead of going out to the theatre to celebrate World Theatre Day, share your love of the theatre with your friends and family in your homes by reading a play out loud, writing and performing one with your children or watching some of the many productions being made available to you for free through various streaming services.

From all of us at Equity, we wish you continued good health and we look forward to seeing you back in the theatre soon.

#EquityStrong

Arden R. Ryshpan
Executive Director
Canadian Actors' Equity Association

World Theatre Day was started by the International Theatre Institute and this year their celebratory message is from Shahid Nadeem, a leading playwright from Pakistan and head of the celebrated Ajoka Theatre.

This World Theatre Day celebrate Canadian playwriting talent with the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Play Reading Relay happening from 11AM-6PM EST today. 28 plays in seven hours all broadcast into your home through Zoom.

Our colleagues at the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT),  l’Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC) and the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC), offer an annual Canadian message celebrating World Theatre Day and this year’s message is from Geneviève Pelletier from Théâtre Cercle Molière.

COVID-19 Advocacy and Resource Links

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March 25, 2020 - Equity has created a list of organizations, activities, and links that are aimed at assisting artsworkers in live performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. An archive of Equity's own updates and activities are available on this page as well.

Second Online COVID-19 Member Meeting March 25, 12:30 p.m. ET

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Equity is holding a second online video meeting with Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan and other staff to provide Equity members an update on advocacy work with multiple levels of government, answer member questions regarding live streaming of activities, recorded auditions, cancelled contracts and more.


Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Online via Zoom webinar

Video recording of the meeting is embedded below.

Text transcript

Questions may be sent in advance to communications@caea.com or will be fielded live. Transcription of the meeting statements and questions will be provided to all members as soon as possible.

Please note: Only Equity members in good standing may attend. Members must login to Equity’s website in order to attend the meeting.

Member Advisory #6 re: Advocacy - COVID-19

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March 30, 2020 - This advisory offers Equity members an update on the limited new information we have regarding the Canadian government's plans for income support for Canadians affected by COVID-19. Information is being released daily, so we encourage members to bookmark the federal Government's website for further information as it is being released. Here are some updates known at this time:

  • The Emergency Support Benefit is $5 billion in funding specifically for Canadians who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and are unable to work due to COVID-19;
  • This benefit will be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA);
  • Specific details are fuzzy, but it appears they will offer $900 every two weeks for up to a 15 week term. They are assessing the situation and these terms may be extended if Canadians continue to be unable to return to work;
  • They are promising that the sign-up will be simple, through website or phone, and indications are that you will self-declare and payment will be made directly to you;
  • Parliament needs to be recalled to pass legislation for this to happen. That is anticipated to happen next week and they are suggesting benefits could be up and running within 2-3 weeks.

If you have not already seen it, members may be encouraged to read this public statement from Stephen Guilbeault, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, which was posted to Facebook and Twitter. In the Equity online member meeting earlier this week, we spoke about launching a letter writing campaign regarding income support to the Minister and MPs; however, given the swiftness of their response to the situation, we feel it is not warranted at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and if we feel a campaign from the membership would be of benefit, we will initiate something.

Inside Equity

Executive Director, Arden R. Ryshpan has had a number of phone conversations with provincial Ministers and local government officials over the past four days, all of whom are aware of the urgent issues facing the live performance sector and putting plans into place to offer support. Another online member meeting is in the planning stage for next week. Arden will report more on these meetings at that time. More details to follow.

Equity will be launching a Lost Work Opportunities Tracker shortly. Member participation will be essential in order to provide Equity necessary information to record the financial effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on our membership. Different levels of government need data to fully understand the scale of the situation so they can plan appropriate responses for the live performance sector. More details to follow.


Equity will continue to keep you up-to-date with developments as we know more. For now, we encourage members to stay positive, stay safe, and look after each other.

Please continue to visit www.caea.com to read regularly updated and new information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transcript and Video of March 17 Online Member Meeting

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March 19, 2020 - On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Equity held an information and update meeting regarding the COVID-19 crisis and its far-reaching effects on the live performance sector. A transcript of the meeting including statements by members of Equity's management team and Council President Scott Bellis is now available HERE. Video of the meeting is embedded below.

 

Member Advisory #5 re: Advocacy - COVID-19

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March 19, 2020 - With many of our members currently affected by theatre closures and cancelled/postponed contracts, we want to let you know about some of the advocacy efforts that Equity is undertaking on your behalf.

Government

Ensuring that our various levels of government are aware of the financial hardship that our members are facing with cancellation and postponement of contracts, as well as the general threat to engagers through loss of income from ticket sales, is being undertaken by Equity and our partner organizations across the Canadian arts and cultural sector.

On March 13th, Equity, along with fraternal organizations including ACTRA, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, CWA Canada, the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC), and IATSE wrote to The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism advocating that given the importance of our industry and the precariousness of its workers, freelance workers in Canada's entertainment industry need to be included in any expansion of Employment Insurance income support coverage being offered by the Government.

Equity's Public Affairs Lobbyist in Ottawa is currently working daily on our behalf to ensure that the appropriate Ministers and Director Generals within the government are aware of the needs of our members and our wider industry. Our message appears to be getting through.

It's too early to jump to conclusions, but yesterday, March 18, the Prime Minister announced $27 billion in direct payments to Canadians, including reference to the 5.7 million Canadians who are not included in the Employment Insurance system (which would include self-employed cultural workers) as well as a further $55 billion in tax credits and deferrals. They were also clear that this was only phase one of support. The details are not completely clear, but this seems to suggest that EI benefits (or something resembling them) will be extended to those in need who may not have previously qualified for this benefit, including those who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Details are still evolving, but members are encouraged to visit the Government of Canada Department of Finance website for further information. As more specific information is announced, we will share available details with the Equity membership.

Equity's Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan is active in conversations daily with ministries and departments at the local, provincial and federal level across the country. We are in dialogue with other arts service organizations to discuss methods for collective data gathering and advocacy action. These groups are coming together to present a strong, clear and unified message to the government for urgent support for our sector.

Canada Council

On March 16th, Simon Brault, the Director and CEO of Canada Council for the Arts, released a statement affirming that they are aware of the devastating impact that isolation and social distancing will have on the arts and cultural sector. His statement says "we are working intensely with the Department of Canadian Heritage to develop proposals for short-term measures to help the sector get through this crisis […] I can assure you that you will be the first to be informed of these measures as soon as the government's decisions have been made, which will not be long in coming […] it is very important that you accurately document your lost revenues as a result of deferrals and cancellations directly related to the measures taken to control the spread of COVID-19."

Equity

Here at Equity we continue to come up with new strategies and pursue new avenues to ensure that the needs of the arts and cultural sector, and the many freelance artists that work within that sector, are not forgotten.

We are aware of the anxiety that the loss of these contracts and general uncertainty is having on our members. While we pursue assistance from government, we are also aware of the excellent work that is taking place at the grassroots level within our arts communities to support each other and we encourage all of our members to look after each other, including our engager colleagues, in whatever ways we can. It is essential to all of us that our delicate ecosystem remains as unscathed as possible so we can emerge on the other side of this with our arts and cultural sector intact.

These are uncertain times, but we commit to you that we will use all of our relationships and advocacy resources to ensure that the need for support for our industry and its self-employed independent contracts continues to be heard to all levels of government.

The situation is changing hourly, but we will keep in regular contact with you and update you as we have more information.

Member Advisory #4 re: Financial Issues - COVID-19

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March 18, 2020 - Equity understands that our members are experiencing the financial brunt of COVID-19 production and contract cancellations. In addition to our advocacy for financial support from government for the membership, we want to take tangible steps to assist members directly in this difficult time.

Basic Dues

Equity is introducing some immediate measures that we believe will help members during this period. Effective immediately we will:

  • Delay the May 1 basic dues billing until June or until the many states of emergency have been lifted
  • Reduce the basic dues by $15 for every month until the many states of emergency have been lifted
  • Reach out to all artists currently in the process of joining to put their plans on hold and therefore delay the payment of initiation fees
  • Extend the duration of initiation permit credits/ apprentice credits that would otherwise expire

Questions regarding basic dues may be sent by email (only) to membership@caea.com.

Weekly Disability Insurance

Members have written asking if Equity's insurance plan offers wage replacement for this situation. Unfortunately it does not. The weekly disability insurance only covers members who are unable to fulfil the terms of their contract due to accident or illness and unfortunately this does not apply to the pandemic.

Association Finances

The COVID-19 pandemic will definitely have a negative impact on the Association’s finances. We are anticipating revenue to be down by approximately $250K a month for the duration of the pandemic, and we anticipate that it will also take a long time for revenue to return to previous levels once the situation is over. Fortunately, Equity has a healthy reserve fund that will help us maintain essential services during this period. We are also looking at ways to reduce our costs as much as possible while supporting the membership and our staff during these uncertain times.

Call to extend income support for those not eligible for EI Sickness Benefits

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March 17, 2020 - Earlier this week, a coalition of creative industry unions and guilds wrote to your Cabinet colleagues, Ministers Hadju and Qualtrough, on behalf of workers in Canada’s entertainment industry who would be left out of the Employment Insurance (EI) supports announced as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response package. Read the letter here (PDF)

Equity's National and Western Offices Closed Until Further Notice

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March 17, 2020 - To protect our staff and responding to provincial advisories regarding COVID-19, Equity's two 'physical' offices have now closed until further notice. A reduced team of Equity staff is working remotely to provide essential service. Today, March 17, we are getting "virtual" offices up and running today in order to continue to support our members.

Please be advised that email is now Equity's primary communication method. Please consult the Contact Us page.

During this period you may not hear from your usual Business Representative or staff person, but be assured the counsel provided will be the same.

Please be advised that e-Drive is temporarily suspended, and submissions will not be reviewed or released for the time being. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.

This is an unprecedented and evolving situation. Equity is committed to doing the best job we possibly can to serve our membership under the circumstances. Given the volume of recent correspondence, all emails are being triaged. A staff person will respond to you as soon as time permits. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

Online COVID-19 Information Meeting March 17, 1:00 p.m. ET

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Online Zoom COVID-19 video information meeting for Equity members-only
Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Time: 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Online  video meeting via the Internet (Zoom webinar)

Log in to join the meeting HERE (member login required)

Questions may be sent in advance to communications@caea.com or will be fielded live. Transcription of the meeting statements and questions will be provided to all members as soon as possible.

Please note: Only Equity members in good standing may attend. Members must login to Equity’s website in order to attend the meeting.

Member Advisory #3 re: COVID 19 - Message from Scott Bellis

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March 16, 2020 - During this unprecedented time, your national Council wishes to express our solidarity with fellow Equity members across the country and to our colleagues internationally.

As we all grapple with the spread of COVID-19 and the corresponding production and contract interruption and cancellations, I urge members to look after themselves and their health and continue to take reasonable precautions as necessary.

Watch Council President Scott Bellis' video statement to Equity Members below.

Statement Transcript:

Hi, I'm Scott Bellis, Council President of Equity. The national Council wishes to express solidarity with our members across the country and our colleagues internationally. We know that behind the headlines, there is a human cost to how COVID-19 has affected our industry; the cancelled productions and contracts mount, and behind each and every one there is an Equity member who is affected emotionally, physically, financially and mentally.

These are unprecedented times that affect Equity staff, Council, and members alike. Equity is planning a Zoom member-only meeting to discuss your questions about the COVID-19 situation with Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan and others on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. (ET). Details are still being worked out. Please check caea.com tomorrow, March 16, for more information.

You may sometimes have seen the online hashtag #EquityStrong, usually used in discussion around labour issues, but now more than ever we need united strength. From yesterday’s informative primer by our communications staff, to Councillors going above and beyond to support members, to our ED Arden and the Business Reps taking your calls, and the members themselves, #Equity Strong means that we are looking out for each other when we need it. If you have questions, concerns, or needs, please know that Equity is here for you.

Member Advisory #2 re: COVID 19

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March 13, 2020 - The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) continues to assess the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population in Canada. However, recent developments will have a significant impact on the Equity membership. As we all grapple with the spread of COVID-19 and the corresponding production and contract interruption and cancellations, we urge members to look after themselves and their health and continue to take reasonable precautions as necessary.

Statement from Equity's Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan

At Equity we are doing everything we can to stay in touch with Engagers and to stay on top of this ever changing situation. There are no road maps for how the live performance industry should respond to such an unprecedented crisis. At this moment, our primary concern is to ensure that our members receive any appropriate termination or cancellation payments owed to them, based on the agreement or engagement policy they are working under.

We are reaching out to the Government to request that the conditions to access funds made available to support workers whose earnings are interrupted by the pandemic are extended to independent contractors in the arts and culture sector. Further, we are investigating the ways in which the streaming of live performances to paying audiences might be facilitated, as a way of keeping people working and under contract.

While Equity cannot control how this situation progresses, we promise that we will provide as much information and support to the membership as we can during this very challenging and unpredictable time.

Responding to Enquiries

As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, we encourage all members to remain calm and seek news information from reputable sources. This is a rapidly evolving situation and Equity is responding to all enquiries as soon as possible but it should be recognized that it is clearly not business as usual. As you may expect, members and Engagers both have urgent questions. We have been informed that some productions may close early and others may delay opening. As a result we are working hard to provide you with timely and accurate counsel.

Restrictions on the Size of Public Gatherings

In light of recent events including provincial voluntary or mandatory restrictions on the size of public gatherings, Equity is aware of the significant impact this may have on our members who are currently, or about to begin, working under contract. As of now, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario have announced a voluntary restriction on the size of public gatherings and British Columbia and Quebec have enacted mandatory restrictions. We expect that other provinces may follow suit with restrictions and it is possible that voluntary restrictions may become mandatory.

Given that each circumstance is different, we urge our members to speak to the Engager of a production and also contact Equity, (Contact Us) so that we can respond based on your specific circumstance. Please also refer to Equity's Member Advisory of March 12 regarding obligations while under contract.

Equity Member-Only COVID-19 Information Meeting

Equity will be holding a Zoom webinar member-only meeting to discuss the COVID-19 situation with Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan, Director of Finance & Administration Marion (Maz) Magoris, CPA, CMA and Associate Executive Director Steven Sparling, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. (ET). Members in good standing may attend by signing into Equity's website.

Details are still being worked out. Please check www.caea.com on the afternoon of Monday, March 16 for more information. Questions may be sent in advance to communications@caea.com or will be fielded live.

Industry Partners

Equity has reached out to our major industry partners and has been in contact with many of our Engagers. We are staying abreast of their various plans. Equity, its members, Engagers, and partner organizations must work together during the coming days and weeks in order to manage this situation.

Advocacy for Independent Contractors

Many Equity members (with the exception of some stage managers) are independent contractors and are not eligible for Employment Insurance benefits that may be available to workers who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Equity is collaborating with our fraternal colleagues ACTRA, the Canadian Media Guild, the Canadian Musicians Association, CWA Canada, Directors Guild of Canada and IATSE on an advocacy campaign directed at the federal Government urging income support for independent contractors. Equity will do everything within its power to advocate on behalf of the precarious independent contractor workforce affected by COVID-19.

 

CTA Negotiations to Resume

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March 13, 2020 - Equity and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) have reached agreement on two key issues in a mid-negotiation mediation. The mediation began March 11, 2020 and took one-and-a-half days.

Negotiations for a new Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) are set to resume April 21, 2020 (TBA). As is a standard part of a collective bargaining process, the mediation settlement will not be made public until negotiations successfully conclude. Pending a successful conclusion to the CTA negotiations, the mediation settlement will form part of the final negotiated package presented to Equity members for ratification.

Equity's CTA negotiation team, led by Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan, will continue its hard work to ensure protection of a member's right to work in a safe, secure, reliable environment in which to create on any stage in this country.

Member Advisory #1 re: COVID 19

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March 12, 2020 - At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for the general population in Canada. The Government of Canada is confident that the Canadian public health system is prepared to respond to any outbreak of COVID-19 and is reassessing the public health risk, based on the best available evidence, as the situation evolves.

Members should be reassured that proactive arrangements are being made for Equity staff to continue the business of the Association. We understand that the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) as well as many other Engagers share our concerns for healthy public gatherings and ensuring the health and wellbeing of all live performance workers and are making their own plans.

This is an evolving situation and member advisory updates will be issued as necessary. Please check www.caea.com regularly for the most current information.

We have recently begun fielding a number of COVID-19 questions from members. We have provided answers to the most frequently asked questions below.

What are members' obligations while under contract?

Until advised otherwise by Equity, members and other artists signed to Equity contracts (presently or in the future) are responsible to fulfil their contractual obligations.

In the situation where a statutory Government declaration due to COVID-19 forces the cancellation or shutdown of a production or activity (including touring), thereby preventing a member from continuing service, the member should advise Equity immediately (Contact Us). Each situation must be reviewed on its own merits. This situation may constitute a reasonable work stoppage but Equity (only) should make this determination.

A statutory Government declaration may be made by the applicable municipal, provincial or federal government or Public Health Authority for a region. Mandatory compliance with a statutory declaration could force the cancellation or shutdown of a production or activity. In the case of touring productions, it may include the applicable governing body having jurisdiction over the tour destination, and it may extend to include cancellation or shutdown of transportation and accommodation providers, such as airlines and hotels.

What if a member becomes ill due to COVID-19?

Nothing is more important than a member's health and safety. Equity encourages members to follow the prevention and risk guidelines available on the Government of Canada's COVID-19 Prevention and Risks webpage.

If an Equity member or other artist signed to an Equity contract becomes ill they should avail themselves of the Sick Leave or Termination Due to Illness provisions of the applicable agreement or engagement policy. Members with questions about these provisions should advise Equity immediately (Contact Us).

What if I am quarantined due to COVID-19?

In the case where an Equity member or another artist member is exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace they should follow the counsel provided by the applicable Public Health Authority and the Engager regarding quarantine. Members should also advise Equity immediately (Contact Us).

What are an Engagers' obligations?

An Engager must provide a safe and sanitary workplace to all members and artists working under an Equity contract. Any concerns in this regard should be forwarded to Equity immediately (Contact Us).

In the situation where a statutory Government declaration due to COVID-19 forces the cancellation or shutdown of production or activity (including touring), thereby preventing a member from continuing service, the Engager should immediately advise Equity (see below). Equity will work with the Engagers affected by COVID-19 to ensure that the terms and conditions of the applicable agreement or policy are enforced, particularly in a situation which may constitute a reasonable work stoppage.

More information is available on Equity's website www.caea.com.

What are Equity’s plans?

At present Equity is preparing an internal response plan in the event that the COVID-19 situation worsens or if there is a widespread closure of public spaces. Our intent is not to alarm, but to have a plan in place as a responsible business practice. Members are encouraged to contact us with any questions (Contact Us).

Engager Obligations re: COVID 19

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March 12, 2020 - All signed engagement contracts remain in full force and effect and Equity has advised artists signed to Equity contracts to continue to fulfil their contractual obligations unless advised otherwise by Equity.

In the situation where a statutory Government declaration due to COVID-19 forces the cancellation or shutdown of a production or activity (including touring), the provisions set forth in the Performances and/or Rehearsals Lost and/or Force Majeure provisions of a negotiated agreement* will be deemed to apply.

Engagement polices such as the DOT and the INDIE do not include Force Majeure language. In the unlikely situation where a statutory Government declaration forces the cancellation or shutdown of a production or activity (including touring), contractual obligations will be determined between Equity and the Engager if required. 

A statutory Government declaration may be made by the applicable municipal, provincial or federal government or Public Health Authority for a region. Mandatory compliance with a statutory declaration could force the cancellation or shutdown of a production (including a tour). In the case of touring productions, it may include the applicable governing body having jurisdiction in the tour destination, and it may extend to include cancellation or shutdown of transportation and accommodation providers, such as airlines and hotels.

Equity expects that all Engagers will heed any travel health advisory notices for COVID-19 posted by the Government of Canada Travel Advice.

* Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA), Equity Second City Agreement (ESCA), Independent Theatre Agreement (ITA), Stratford Festival Addendum to the CTA, Canadian Opera Agreement, Opera Agreement, Vancouver Opera Agreement, Alberta Ballet Agreement (ABA), Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal Agreement (LGBA), National Ballet of Canada Agreement (NBCA), Royal Winnipeg Ballet Agreement (RWBA) 

Equity to Enter into Mediation with PACT on March 11

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March 10, 2020 - As reported last fall, Equity and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) established an Agreement of Continuance to the Canadian Theatres Agreement (CTA) which included an agreement that the parties would undertake a mid-negotiation mediation process. 

This mediation begins March 11, 2020. Three days of talks between Equity and PACT are scheduled.
 
Pending a successful mediation on two specific issues (see below), Equity and PACT will resume negotiations on over 200 remaining clauses at the end of April.

Background: Despite Equity and PACT’s original agreement, bargaining as planned did not resume last September. Instead, PACT approached Equity with a requirement to mediate the proposals on Produce/Present and non-member filing fees before they would agree to continue negotiations.

•    Produce/Present refers to how a PACT theatre may present a non-PACT company in their season. Equity and PACT have significant differences of opinion about what fees and conditions should apply when a PACT theatre contracts out to another company to provide programming.

•    Non-member filing fees are deductions equivalent to those made from members, and are credited towards a non-member's eventual initiation fees. Unlike many other organizations, Equity does not charge non-members a work permit fee on top of these filing fees.

The CTA negotiation team, led by Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan, will continue its hard work to ensure that we protect the issues that matter most to members throughout this mediation and hopefully into continued negotiations that will recommence thereafter. Our job, as it has been for over 15 months of bargaining with PACT, is to protect your right to work in a safe, secure, reliable environment in which to create on any stage in this country.

Equity will advise the membership regarding the result of the mediation as soon as information is available.

National AGM of March 9, 2020 Successfully Attended

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March 10, 2020 - Equity's first online-only National AGM took place March 9, 2020. The were 80 participants from coast-to-coast in attendance.

Members wanting to attend read the Council President and Executive Director reports and Financial should click HERE

Video of all reports will be available soon.

Equity Honours 2020 (Video)

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Video presentations from Equity Honours 2020 are now available on the Honours Committee page. Watch all the honoree introductions and acceptance speeches here.

2019 Receipts for Tax Purposes

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For quick and easy access, receipts for Equity working dues and insurance premiums paid in the past calendar year are now available to Regular, Life and Extended-Visa members for download here (member login required).

Hard copy receipts are only mailed to Equity members without a current email address on file or upon request. View, update or amend your receipt mailing preferences online here.

Please email membership@caea.com with any questions regarding your receipts for tax purposes.

Members were advised regarding off-contract insurance eligibility earlier this year, by mail or email depending on communication preference. A member’s insurance eligibility status is always available on your member profile page (member login required).

Whistleblower Research Project Survey to Include Equity Members

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Equity to collaborate with the Centre for Free Expression (CFE) at Ryerson University on a Whistleblower Research Project survey. 

All Regular, Regular-Extended Visa and Life members of Equity, in good standing as of February 28, 2020, who worked under an Equity agreement of longer than two weeks over the past two years will be invited to participate. Beginning Wednesday March 4, invitations will be sent out over a few days. The survey will be in place over four weeks in March 2020.

Headed by Dr. James Turk, Director of CFE with a team of experts from Ryerson, Wilfrid Laurier, and Saint Mary’s, the research will be seeking to learn more about the extent of harassment and bullying in the live performance industry, how it is being dealt with, the effectiveness of current anti-harassment and whistleblowing initiatives, and what can be done to improve them, as well as what might be helpful for organizations beyond the live performance industry. This information will also assist Equity in understanding the effectiveness of its "Not in OUR Space!" anti-harassment campaign and continue to build a better understanding of harassment issues for our membership.

The online survey will be administered by York University's Institute for Social Research (ISR), a leading academic survey research organization in Canada. The ISR will contact Equity members asking if they are willing to participate in the research. Having been assured that any personal information provided will be used in accordance with Equity's privacy policy, Equity is providing members' email contact information to the ISR in order to facilitate members' participation in this important survey.

While participation is not mandatory, Equity members are strongly encouraged to take part in the survey. Your participation benefits not just Equity but will assist the valuable research as part of the CFE’s broader work on whistleblowing and protection for whistleblowers. For more information on the Centre, please visit the CFE website.

Any comments or questions regarding Equity’s collaboration with the CFE on the Whistleblower Research Project survey may be forwarded to the Association at communications@caea.com.

Council Connect - February 2020

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Stay up to date with Equity Council with the latest installment of Council Connect.

Equity Welcomes Steven Sparling, Associate Executive Director

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Equity announces that Steven Sparling will join the senior management team of the Association in the position of Associate Executive Director on February 18, 2020. He will work closely with Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan providing staff support to the work of Council and its committees. This new position also incorporates many aspects of the Special Projects Manager role, and Steven will assume responsibility for a number of new and ongoing project initiatives enhancing member services.

Steven has been a member of Equity since 1991 and has performed on stages across Canada and the UK in dance, opera, theatre and musical theatre productions. For the last decade he has been employed in academia, teaching actors/singers/dancers in Canada and the UK, as well as guest teaching in South Africa, Holland and Lithuania.

Steven is in the final stages of completing a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London, looking at barriers to professional sustainability in mid-career UK actors. Working out of the National Office, he looks forward to bringing his advocacy for performing arts workers to Equity.

RRSP Plan Provider Update

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Equity's group retirement savings plan provider Great-West Life is rebranding under the new name of Canada Life Assurance Company. Equity is beginning to reflect this change on its website and in its documents.

Members should experience no substantive change to Equity's retirement policies, plans and service resulting from the change of name. The Canada Life logo is now displayed on Equity's Benefits & Services web page, and will soon replace the Great West Life logo on all of Equity's retirement materials and forms.

While updates are being made, please note that any mention of Great-West Life or London Life now refers to Canada Life. Learn more about the change at canadalife.com.

Please direct any questions or comments regarding this name change to Equity's Director of Finance & Administration, Marion (Maz) Magoris, CPA, CMA maz@caea.com.

Equity Honours 2020 - Monday February 24

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On February 24, 2020, join and celebrate with fellow Equity members, Council and staff to honour some of Equity's most outstanding individuals. All Equity members in good standing are invited.

*** Award winners will be announced very soon. ***

Are you an Equity member in Good Standing? RSVP here!

Equity Honours 2020 Invitation

Registration Now Open: National AGM March 9, 2020

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Equity's first online-only National AGM will take place March 9, 2020 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET. The meeting will be live-stream-only, hosted by via Zoom Webinar.

Only Equity members in good standing may attend. Access to the National AGM registration page is restricted to members in good standing only. 

Registration is required. Members wanting to attend should register HERE. Follow the instructions on Equity's website for quick and easy Zoom app download and installation.

Why you want to attend this National AGM: You will have the ability to ask questions, raise your concerns, and participate in discussions affecting your industry and your career from home, work or wherever you find yourself.. There will also be reports from Equity's Executive Director and Council President regarding current and upcoming projects such as the Mental Health and Wellness Survey, Not In OUR Space! and CTA negotiations.

Agenda:

  • Council President report and questions
  • Executive Director report and questions
  • Presentation of the financial report and Audited Financial Statement and appointment of the auditor for the coming year
  • Committee and Task Force reports

 

Equity's Member Advantage Program to Undergo Review

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Equity's Member Advantage Program (MAP) in its current format is coming to a close and will be undergoing a benefit analysis. Potential new and valuable changes to the program may result. The timeline for the internal review is 60 days.

Equity member access to the current MAP will end as of January 31, 2020.

This action has been necessitated by ACTRA National's recent decision to change their MAP provider. For the past several years ACTRA has managed the MAP program on behalf of a number of arts service organizations. Equity thanks ACTRA for administering this service on behalf of our membership over the past several years.

The additional insurance coverage for critical illness, hospital expenses, accidental death/dismemberment and funeral expenses provided by Chubb Life remains available, as does Equity members' preferred access to the Spencer Health dental and vision network.

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to all Equity members! Equity's offices are now back to regular office hours at both the National and Western offices.

Retroactive Fees Owing for CTA Contracts

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According to the Memorandum of Continuance signed by Equity and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), an Artist working under a CTA (Canadian Theatre Agreement) contract during the period Monday, June 24 to Sunday, October 13, 2019, may be entitled to a 1.75% increase. Payment of retroactive fees owing must be made not later than December 31, 2019. More information regarding the Agreement of Continuance is available here.