News

Federal Budget 2021 Includes Continuation of Emergency Aid

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April 19, 2021 - The Government of Canada tabled its 2021 budget today, outlining its economic policy for the next year by shoring up ongoing COVID-19 supports while laying groundwork for long-term sustainable growth.

Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland's budget acknowledges that pandemic financial supports are still needed and will not be cut as the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. At its centrepiece is a long awaited national child-care plan. Across all programs, the Budget proposes $101 billion in new spending, in addition to more than $350 billion already spent on COVID-19 supports.

The government has renewed its commitment to the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), to the benefit of many Equity members. The Budget proposes to provide up to 12 weeks of additional income support for claimants who will be exhausting their current benefits in June 2021. We understand that the first four of these additional 12 weeks will be paid at $500 per week and the remaining eight weeks will be paid at the lower amount of $300 per week.

In the short term, the Government will maintain financial supports to two key programs for businesses hit by the pandemic: the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). The continuation of these supports will also directly benefit Equity and its ability to continue to deliver service to members until the pandemic resolves and members safely return to workplaces.

Budget 2021 recognizes that the arts and culture and sports sectors have been disproportionately affected by lockdowns and that the impact of COVID-19 on tourism, arts, and culture has been severe. In response, the government proposes to make available a package of supports, totalling $1 billion over three years, starting in 2021-2022. (See 'Supporting Tourism Hospitality, Arts and Culture' document below.)

To promote recovery from the pandemic for heritage, arts, and sport sectors, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $300 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to establish a Recovery Fund for Heritage, Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Sectors.

Other specific funding includes supports for performing arts and community events, making cultural spaces safe during COVID-19, and discrete funding for the National Arts Centre to both address financial pressures caused by COVID-19 and to support collaborations with equity deserving groups to help re-launch the performing arts sector.

  • To promote recovery from the pandemic for heritage, arts, and sport sectors, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $300 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to establish a Recovery Fund for Heritage, Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Sectors.
  • Other specific funding includes supports for performing arts and community events, making cultural spaces safe during COVID-19, and discrete funding for the National Arts Centre to both address financial pressures caused by COVID-19 and to support collaborations with equity deserving groups to help re-launch the performing arts sector.

 Despite the fact that additional weeks of eligibility will be available under the CRB, we are concerned about the reduction of the amount from $500 a week to $300 after July. It is clear to us that our sector will not have recovered sufficiently in order for our members to return to work. As the pandemic continues, it is unclear when audiences will feel safe returning to indoor venues and we believe that supports must stay in place until theatres can safely reopen with the expectation of an audience in attendance. However, we are pleased that both the wage subsidy and rental subsidy will continue until the fall as these supports are essential for Equity to be able to continue to provide support to the membership.  While it is not directly tied to our sector, the creation of a reasonable child care plan will offer financial relief for our members who are challenged by the cost of child care.
      - Arden R. Ryshpan, Executive Director

Federal budgets must obtain parliamentary approval through a confidence vote taken after a maximum of four days of debate in the House of Commons. Equity will keep members informed as further details about these programs become available.

Budget 2021 (full document): Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience

Budget 2021 (excerpt): Supporting Tourism Hospitality, Arts and Culture

Anti-Asian Harassment is Unacceptable

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April 8, 2021 - Equity has been apprised of continuing anti-Asian harassment and intolerance linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, within the live-performance community. Equity condemns anti-Asian discrimination and racism, and all forms of hate and racial violence. Racism and discrimination are completely unacceptable in our workplaces. The labour movement has a central tenet that all individuals are equal and deserving of respect and fair treatment. Equity believes this is applicable in every aspect of our industry, our organization, our communities, our homes, and our workplaces.

If you have experienced abuse of power, bullying, discrimination (including, but not limited to, acts of ableism, ageism, racism, or sexism), harassment or sexual harassment, reprisal or violence, caused by a member of Equity while working under Equity agreements or engagement policies in a workplace, please contact HAVEN Helpline: 1-855-201-7823.

More HAVEN Helpline information is available at https://www.caea.com/Features/Haven-Helpline.

Council President and Executive Director's Financial and Equity Staffing Update

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March 31, 2021 - As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting live performance sector shut-down has lasted longer than we ever imagined. Our two physical offices closed over one year ago and one will not be reopening in the near future. The word unprecedented doesn't even begin to address the apprehension, concern and difficult choices faced by Equity and its membership over the last 12+ months.

Council and Equity's staff have been hard at work providing support to the membership during this time. Online member meetings have not only provided essential information but have helped the membership stay in touch with the Association, Councillors and each other when the industry was effectively shut down. Equity's tireless advocacy with Government resulted in first getting, and then keeping in place, key income supports to sustain members until venues can open safely and we can all begin to resume the work we all love. We hope that these efforts have benefitted you during these very trying times.

Thank you to the many members who have reached out to Council and staff sharing your appreciation of how helpful the member meetings and Equity's advocacy efforts have been. Your feedback is appreciated and your words of support have been very meaningful during a difficult year.

With vaccines slowly becoming more available, we hope it won't be much longer until live performance work can begin in earnest once again. However, we are not there yet and recently faced more difficult choices in order to continue to provide reasonable services.

Equity remains operating on only 26% of our normal earned revenues plus government supports, such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) and more recently the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). These subsidies will account for over 45% of our revenue for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The wage subsidy is scheduled to end in June of this year and Equity has had to responsibly budget for the year ahead. Artists working on Equity contracts have seen their earnings plummet over the last year by almost 80%. This has resulted in a corresponding drop in revenue for the Association as Equity does not receive funding from any source, other than basic dues and the dues that artists pay when working under an Equity contract. With no more places from which to save, our only remaining cost saving option is to make cuts to staff.

Therefore, effective April 5, 2021:

  • All senior staff will have their earnings reduced further and some will have their hours reduced accordingly.
  • In addition to the two permanent layoffs already announced, another staff person will leave the Association.
  • We will introduce temporary rolling layoffs for a number of staff in the Business Representative Department. Rotating layoffs will be for shorter periods, one after another, making it easier and faster to restart our full staff complement when we emerge at the end of the pandemic.
  • Remaining staff have had their hours cut and wages reduced accordingly.

Our current draft budget for the upcoming fiscal year is based on total revenues from all sources being almost 60% less than normal. It is important to note that after factoring in the end of the remaining government subsidies and savings from reduced staffing costs, we anticipate a significant deficit for the coming fiscal year and will continue to have to draw from our operating stabilization fund to cover a further $1M plus revenue shortfall.

These were difficult choices. When all these measures come into effect in April, Equity will have lost 40% of its pre-pandemic staffing capacity. As a result, slower response times are to be expected. Engagers will notice that new time saving processes may be applied to some engagements. Many of Equity's staff are now job-sharing in new ways with steep learning curves. We ask that you be patient when reaching out to Equity and understand if it takes a while longer for us to respond. Please continue to reach out to your usual Business Representative and your email will be dealt with by another of our Business Representatives who is familiar with the agreement or policy under which you normally work.

The decision to have to reduce our staffing levels even further has been taken as a last resort in order to maintain a level of fiscal responsibility and financial stability. It is essential that there is a functioning structure in place for when production levels increase. We hope that rolling layoffs will allow us to staff up more flexibly when the work returns. However, we are still committed to providing the best level of service we can with the restrictions we are currently working under. As a result, we ask for your cooperation in reaching out to Business Representatives as soon as possible to discuss your production as it will be difficult to accommodate last minute requests.

And lastly, we want to recognize the staff who will be leaving us temporarily or permanently and thank them for their good work and specifically for their graciousness as we continue to navigate this ever changing situation. As always, members are encouraged to contact either of us at the email address links below with any questions or concerns.
    - Council President Scott Bellis and Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan

World Theatre Day 2021

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March 27, 2021 - Greetings to my fellow Equity members on this most unusual World Theatre Day.

How do we recognize and celebrate this day after a year of almost no live performing arts?

Perhaps I'll share a dream I sometimes have. It's a version of the "Actor's Nightmare" that many of us are apt to experience a few times in our creative lives - you know, the one where you're on stage, or in the booth, and you don't know what show you're in, you don't know how you got here, but it's HAPPENING NOW, and you have no idea what your lines are or where your cue book is, or what you are supposed to do.

My personal version of this dream is somewhat opposite. I'm backstage, ready to go on, the piece is rehearsed, the tech has gone brilliantly, the director is expectant and joyful, everyone looks amazing, the lights go up, I'm onstage, about to speak, and -- the theatre is empty. There is no audience. Raising a hand to shield my eyes from the toplight, I peer out into the house to find only motes of dust swirling in a sea of vacant seats. After hearing the pre-show hum of the crowd while standing in the wings, they have now all mysteriously vanished. I am confused, angry and a little panicked. All that preparation, all that sweat and effort, all that collaboration, and most of all, the momentum and potential, just -- frozen. "What is happening?", I say, but my voice is distant and muted as it hollowly escapes up into the echoing rafters.

We've been living this dream for over a year now. What a marathon of utter paralysis. The cancellation of so many projects and artistic endeavours last year was disorienting and paralyzing many of us - not just financially, but creatively. And not just for us, but for the audiences who are invested in the continuation of our work, and who share in the celebrative and rejuvenating power of live performance.

But our community remains resilient, and even hopeful. Theatre people are unceasingly flexible and adaptable. I have seen so many friends and colleagues brilliantly pivot this year into educational opportunities, building other types of work skills, and development of online performance projects. It's been incredible to witness. Here at Equity, the national Council has continued to work with our staff on ensuring that when our collective workspaces open up again, they will be spaces built on foundations of safety, fairness, and respect, and that the Association will continue to be there to provide services when members need them. It has been challenging work under turbulent conditions, and I have been inspired this year by the efforts of my fellow Councillors and our dedicated staff.

This past year has also provided an opportunity for deep reflection on the state of our communities, their histories, their inequities, and their possibilities. It has been a time for recognizing that there are different ways for us to be together and work together. It has been a time for many types of dreams.

One day soon, soon, soon, theatres will open, we will come together, and a new landscape will be presented to us. What will it look like?

As we dream forward, I hope to see you all there.


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World Theatre Day was started by the International Theatre Institute. This year, their celebratory message is from Helen Mirren, celebrated British stage, screen and television actor.


Our colleagues at the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) in partnership with l'Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC) and the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PWC) share this World Theatre Day 2021 message.

Online Member Meeting - Stage Management Focus - April 14

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If there's one thing all stage managers agree on, it's that everyone is confused about overtime and hours averaging.

Join Equity SMs Allan Teichman, Melissa Novecosky and Erika Morey as we try to shine some light on contract issues that affect stage managers.

We'll walk through the new SM timesheet, talk CTA overtime, employment standards averaging, and give you some tips for how to ask the right questions and advocate for yourself when it comes to conversations about overtime.

To help us better craft this session, please send questions you have about SM overtime and hours averaging in advance to communications@caea.com by April 7.

Date: Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Time: 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET

Log in and register here


Please note: Only Equity members in good standing may attend. A video recording of the meeting will be made available to all members as soon as possible after the meeting takes place. ASL interpretation will be provided.

Equity's Insurance Explained - Online Member Session - March 31, 2021

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Equity is happy to announce the next event in our Spring Season online member session series on March 31.

Equity's Insurance Explained
Join us on March 31 at 3:00 p.m. ET to learn about Equity's insurance - particularly as it applies to pro-rated contracts, non-standard contracts and contracts of under a week, with a focus on readings and workshops.

Equity has received a number of enquiries and your Councillors have shared with us many recent questions about insurance for short engagements. This presentation will take members through the basics. Arden R. Ryshpan (Executive Director), Ruth Leggett (Business Representative Manager - Ballet & Opera Agreements/Engagement Policies), Margaret Thompson (Business Representative Manager - Theatre Agreements), and Maz Magoris (Director of Finance & Administration), will walk members through the various policies and agreements to better understand Equity's non-standard insurance and answer related questions.

Log in and register for Equity's Insurance Explained


Please note: Only Equity members in good standing may attend. A video recording of the meeting will be made available to all members as soon as possible after the meeting takes place. ASL interpretation will be provided.

2020 Official Receipts Now Available Online

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March 2, 2021 - Official receipts for working dues and/or medical insurance premiums paid by Regular, Life, and Regular Extended-Visa Equity members in the past calendar year are now available on Equity's website. View, download and/or print a PDF copy of your official receipts for tax purposes here (member login required).

Online official receipts are available for the past three calendar years. Email membership@caea.com with any questions.

Please note, hard copy official receipts are only mailed to Equity members without a current email address on file or by request. View, update or amend your official receipt mailing preferences for future years here.

Please note: A member's off-contract accident and sickness insurance eligibility for 2021 is available on the member profile page (member login required) of Equity's website.

Non-members who paid permit fees in 2020 will be mailed receipts.

Notice of Member Expulsion following a Disciplinary Hearing

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March 10, 2021 - Equity's National Council is publishing this notice to the membership in accordance with Bylaw 81. The intention of this bylaw is to ensure that members are informed about actions taken in relation to Disciplinary Complaints and efforts made to maintain safe and respectful workspaces for our members.

Acting on the findings of a Disciplinary Panel relating to a safe and respectful workplace complaint, Equity has expelled Aaron Crane from membership as of March 3, 2021. Expelling a member from our Association is a serious action not taken lightly. The Disciplinary Panel felt strongly that this action was warranted. The investigation of this complaint by the Disciplinary Panel and the resulting report are confidential, and in order to protect the privacy and identities of the complainants, Equity will make no further statement relating to this action.

Council would like to remind all members that they have a right to a workplace that ensures their safety, their dignity, and their creativity. Since the launch of the Not in OUR Space! campaign, Council and Equity staff have worked diligently to ensure that members have these protections in place, and we are committed to the continued development and ongoing improvement of these protections. Engagers large and small are required to have up to date Anti-harassment Policies and provide information regarding reporting incidents of harassment. Equity wants to encourage any member who is or has experienced harassment of any kind, in the workplace, to call the HAVEN Helpline (1-855-201-7823) for immediate assistance.

Equity’s Standards of Professional Conduct and the Disciplinary Process are available in our Constitution and Bylaws (see Bylaws 34 to 81).

Upcoming Online Member Meetings - March 17 and 31

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March 4, 2021 - Equity is happy to announce the next two events in our Spring Season of online member information sessions on March 17 and March 31 - mark your calendars now.

Safer Workspaces
Join us on March 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET to learn more about anti-harassment and anti-bullying initiatives in our workplaces. We will be joined by James Turk from Ryerson's Centre for Free Expression to discuss findings from their Harassment and Discrimination in Canada's Live Performance Industry report, we will have a presentation from Equity Councillors about our improved Complaint and Disciplinary Process, and then we will have a panel discussion including special guests Kate Cornell from Aftermetoo and Grégoire Gagnon from the Cultural Human Resources Council to discuss how we can collectively improve on standards of respect and safety in our workspaces.

Log in and register for Safer Workspaces

Equity's Insurance Explained
Join us on March 31 at 3:00 p.m. ET to learn about Equity's insurance - particularly as it applies to pro-rated contracts, non-standard contracts and contracts of under a week, with a focus on readings and workshops.

Equity has received a number of enquiries and your Councillors have shared with us many recent questions about insurance for short engagements. This presentation will take members through the basics. Arden R. Ryshpan (Executive Director), Ruth Leggett (Business Representative Manager - Ballet & Opera Agreements/Engagement Policies), Margaret Thompson (Business Representative Manager - Theatre Agreements), and Maz Magoris (Director of Finance & Administration), will walk members through the various policies and agreements to better understand Equity's non-standard insurance and answer related questions.

Log in and register for Equity's Insurance Explained


Please note: Only Equity members in good standing may attend. A video recording of the meeting will be made available to all members as soon as possible after the meeting takes place. ASL interpretation will be provided.

Equity Advocacy Update - March 2021

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March 3, 2021 - On Tuesday March 2, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced a further $181.5 million of support for arts and live performance workers in 2021-22 - something Equity and its coalition partners (IATSE, the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC)) have been collectively advocating for since August 2020.

These funds will be directed towards short-term work opportunities for artists, technicians, cultural workers, and arts groups/organizations in a number of artistic practices helping to ensure stability in the live performance sector and provide Canadians with continued access to arts and culture.

As a signal that Equity's advocacy is working, much of what has been announced were requests Equity made in our Priorities for the 2021 Federal Budget, submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Proposals for Recovery submission to Canadian Heritage, both made in August 2020.

Breakdown of the Funding

The Canada Council for the Arts will receive $116.5M for two programs:

  • A new, one-time digital innovation fund that will enable recipients to adapt or create works to be shared with audiences online ($50.5M).
  • Explore and Create program that will enable individual artists and organizations to research, create, produce, and disseminate new works ($66M). This investment is in addition to the existing envelope, which will more than double the number of project grants available.

Department of Canadian Heritage will receive $65M for two purposes:

  • New funding for COVID-19-safe live arts or music events that can be virtual or physically distanced ($40M will be delivered through Building Communities through Arts and Heritage, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, and the Canada Music Fund via FACTOR and Musicaction). Maximum funding is $100,000 per eligible applicant and can cover up to 100% of eligible project costs. Funding agreements for BCAH and CAPF will require recipients to dedicate at least 50% of their funds to paying artists, workers, and support staff. We hope this will help absorb some of the risk and create some job opportunities.
  • Extension of Budget 2019 funding for Building Communities through Arts and Heritage, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, and the Canada Music Fund via FACTOR and Musicaction in 2021-2022 ($25M).

For further information please check out the news release and backgrounder.

Further Advocacy News

At the provincial level, Equity's Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs - Proposals for Recovery to the Ontario Government in August 2020 along with similar submissions from our arts service organization partners, also appears to have resonated. On Tuesday, March 2 the Ontario Government announced details about how the $25 million to help artists and arts organizations survive the COVID-19 pandemic, remain solvent and prepare for a time when they can fully re-open their facilities, resume full programming and welcome back their visitors and audiences, will be delivered.

The Ontario Government has now named 140 arts organizations in Ontario who will be the beneficiaries of $24 million in pledged support, and a further $1 million will be provided directly to artists and creators from across the province. More information on the artists and creators support, including eligibility requirements and application deadlines, are promised to be available soon on the Ontario Arts Council website.

Equity continues to advocate for our members and for our sector and we will continue to issue updates as we make further gains.

Online Member Meeting - Effective Grassroots Advocacy - March 3, 2021

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Join Council President Scott Bellis and Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan for the first of Equity's 'spring season' of online member information sessions: Effective Grassroots Lobbying. Equity will be joined by special guests Don Moors (President) and Ryan Singh (Senior Consultant) from leading government relations consultancy Temple Scott Associates. There will be a presentation on how local advocacy and action can effect change in government policy, followed by a Q&A forum.
 

Wednesday, March 3
Time: 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ET
Platform: Online via Zoom webinar
ASL interpretation will be provided

Register at here (Member login required). Please note: Only Equity members in good standing may attend. A video recording of the meeting will be made available to all members as soon as possible after the meeting takes place.

This session on Effective Grassroots Lobbying will provide members with the tools needed to advocate for themselves and for the live performance sector collectively. Topics will include: how COVID-19 has changed the political landscape, why local issues matter, turning arts & culture priorities into election issues, and much more. Review the agenda and learn more about our special guests here.

 

Update on Federal Government CRB and EI Income Support Benefits

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February 19, 2021 - The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, has announced the Government of Canada intends to introduce regulatory and legislative amendments to increase the number of weeks of benefits available for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and to Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits.

This is welcome news to Equity and its coalition partners (IATSE, the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC)) who have collectively lobbied the Government to keep the income support benefits in place until venues can re-open and our members can safely return to working in live performance.

CRB: weeks available under the CRB will be increased by 12 weeks, extending the maximum duration of the benefits from 26 weeks to up to 38 weeks.

EI Regular Benefits: the number of weeks of EI Regular Benefits available will be increased by up to 24 weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks, for claims made between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

"We created recovery benefits and introduced flexibilities to the EI program so that workers who needed support in this new phase of the pandemic could continue to provide for their families. By increasing the number of weeks available for these important benefits, we are easing a big financial stress for workers and giving them the certainty they need.” – Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Read the Employment and Social Development Canada news release here.

Specific regulatory and legislative amendments are pending and will be subject to Royal Assent. Equity will provide updates as they become available.

Some Self-Employed Canadians Won't Have to Repay CERB

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February 9, 2021 - The Government of Canada has announced that previously announced clawbacks to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from self-employed recipients who applied based on incorrect eligibility information, will not proceed.

Since December Equity and our coalition partners (IATSE, theCanadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC)) and other associations, unions and guilds have lobbied the Government to allow these individuals to keep the benefit, after incorrect or unclear information about eligibility for self-employed applicants originally led them to believe they qualified. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that people who accessed CERB based on their gross self-employed income instead of net will not have to return those payments, as long as they meet the other criteria.

Those who already repaid the benefit will have those payments returned to them. Read more from the CRA media release.

"This announcement is giving certainty to self-employed Canadians who applied for the CERB in good faith, while also protecting their financial well-being. We have gone to great lengths to support workers during this pandemic, and will continue to do so as we build back better together." - Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Specific details on how this decision will be enforced and if a repayment is to be reimbursed, is pending. Equity will provide updates when they become available.

Financial Update and a Virtual Western Office

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February 6, 2021 - Financial Update: Equity remains operating on only 15-20% of normal earned revenues plus Federal Government supports like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) and more recently the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). These subsidies have together represented $1.2 million or 55% of our operating budget for 2020-2021. It is important to note that even with the government subsidies we are anticipating a significant deficit for the fiscal year and will have to draw from our operating stabilization fund to cover a 30-35% revenue shortfall.

The COVID-19 pandemic second wave has hit many provinces and members hard. More productions have been cancelled and contracts terminated. Work week numbers remain low and all of Equity's savings and revenues found have not replaced our income lost from working dues. Just as our members have been badly affected, so has the Association. Our members' generous response to the November 2020 basic dues billing certainly helped but has not generated enough revenue to stave off making more difficult decisions.

The Government wage subsidy support is scheduled to end in June and we must plan accordingly. The Association has already laid off staff and reduced the hours and wages of those that remain. At this point, with no existing places from which to save, the Association is now forced to look for new ways to reduce costs. It remains our intention to have Equity emerge at the end of the pandemic, when live performance returns to the stage, ready to serve the needs of working members. We are on track to do that but some difficult choices lie ahead.

Western Office to Close
With regret, Equity has made the difficult decision to not renew the lease for the physical Western Office in Vancouver. By June 1, 2021, we will switch to providing virtual service to the western region. The nature of our work had radically changed in the last 10 years. Email, scanning to PDF, digital contracts and forms and electronic conferencing, have reduced member foot traffic in the office to almost nil. The past 10 months have taught us that it is possible to effectively do the business of Equity remotely and our current western region staff will remain in place. This decision will amount to an annual cost savings of over $40,000 a year.

"This pandemic has forced us to make many difficult and unpleasant decisions, and the decision not to renew the lease on the Vancouver office when it expires at the end of May is one of them." acknowledged Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan. "The members in the western region are attached to their office and worked hard many years ago to get Equity to open one so that they could be serviced in their own time zone and by staff who they knew and who had developed relationships with members and engagers alike. Our two dedicated staff people, Senior Business Representative Jennifer Riedle and Office Manager Jessica Tan are valued members of the Equity staff and they will continue to provide excellent service, just as they have already offered remotely since March of 2020."

A Zoom meeting was held in early December with Equity members, elected representatives and staff to hear member input on the future of the Western Office and to answer questions.

"I was deeply appreciative of our conversation with my fellow Western members and the perspectives shared. Some of those present had pushed for the opening of an office in the West back in the 80s, and to hear them speak with pride about their efforts was special." shared Council President Scott Bellis. "Our discussion was thorough, informative and respectful. I believe the members understood the challenges Equity is currently facing and felt that the decision would be, with some regret, accepted and respected by the members. Clearly, closing the physical Western Office is not an outcome anyone wants. The pandemic has forced Equity into some hard corners, and this is one of them. Equity's national Council has been consulted on this matter, as they are with all issues that could affect member services. We acknowledge and support this decision with the hope of better times to come."

The Western Office will officially close in the last week of May, COVID-19 restrictions permitting. More information about the practicalities of the new remote western workspace, will be released as soon as it becomes available.

This decision does not preclude Equity from re-opening an office in Vancouver in the future. It is impossible to predict how long it will take for production levels to return to pre-COVID-19 levels or when Equity's revenues will sufficiently recover making it financially prudent to consider a new lease. Reinstatement of full time hours and the restoration of complete services to members will be Equity's most immediate future priority. A new Vancouver office will be on a list of items to consider in the next phase of our rebuilding efforts.

Let's Talk Budget 2021: Tell the Federal Government What Matters to You!

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February 5, 2021 - The Government of Canada is asking for your input ahead of the 2021 Federal Budget. This is an opportunity to speak up about Canada's economic priorities for the next year.

Take five minutes and let the Federal government know that our live performance sector needs to be prioritized.

Complete the government's questionnaire before February 19, 2021 to make your voice heard.

At the end of the questionnaire, there are write-in answers where you can speak up for our industry. The questionnaire asks:

  • If you were designing the Federal budget, what would you like to see in it to help create jobs and grow Canada's economy?
  • When we are able to safely re-open the economy and COVID-19 is under control, what is one idea you have for how the Federal government can help you or your community?

The government wants to hear from you, so tell them what matters to you in Canada's budget. If you are looking for some points, please consider the following:

  • Prioritize the re-opening of arts and culture sector. $53.1 billion was generated by the Canada's arts and culture sector in 2017 making arts and culture an important contributor to our economy.
  • Extend and/or increase Employment Insurance (EI) / Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) benefits for artsworkers until restrictions on audience size are lifted, and continue to provide clarity to benefit recipients when necessary.
  • Ensure that theatres have additional funds for ongoing health and safety requirements and to help them rebuild audience confidence in the safety of an indoor performance space.
  • Review Canadian Actors' Equity Association's 'Priorities for the 2021 Federal Budget', submitted to the Standing Committee on Finance (link: https://www.caea.com/Portals/0/Documents/News/2020/Equity-Pre-Budget-Consultation-Submission-2020.pdf) and 'Proposals for Recovery' (link: https://www.caea.com/Portals/0/Documents/News/2020/HeritageSubmission-08-26-2020.pdf) submitted to Canadian Heritage, both in August 2020.

The questionnaire closes February 19th, 2021. Now is the time to let our government know YOUR priorities for Canada's next budget

Get started here: https://letstalkbudget2021.ca/pre_budget_consultations

e-Drive Archive and Subscribe Functions Temporarily Offline (Service Restored on February 2)

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January 28, 2021 - e-Drive's list provider is currently performing website updates which are resulting in the 'subscribe' and 'e-Drive Archive' features being offline this week. We anticipate the archive to be back up and running in a day or two while the updates are being made. We apologize for any inconveniences this issue may have caused.

Update on Equity Advocacy and Federal Government Mandates

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January 19, 2021 - On January 15, 2021, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, published updated mandate letters for many government ministries. These letters outline the objectives that each minister will work to accomplish, as well as the pressing challenges they will address in their roles.

Original mandate letters were issued in 2019. Prime Minister Trudeau has sent supplementary mandate letters to outline further responsibilities and prioritize key areas of focus for the government to fight COVID-19 and ensure a strong economic recovery in Canada.

Equity and our coalition partners (IATSE, the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC)) have been actively advocating the government on a number of issues relevant for our members and our sector. We are heartened to see that many of the changes we've been calling for are reflected in these updated mandate letters.

Within the letter to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion can be found these two new mandates:

  • Complete the implementation of the Canada Recovery Benefit and make appropriate adjustments as the pandemic response warrants.
  • Bring forward and implement a plan to modernize the Employment Insurance (EI) system for the 21st Century. This should include a plan to make EI the primary delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.

Within the letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage can be found these three new mandates:

  • Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to introduce sector-specific measures for industries that have been hit hardest by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the art, cultural, heritage and sport sectors.
  • Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to levels prior to the pandemic using a range of tools, including direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly up-skill workers and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers, with a focus on the art, cultural, heritage and sport sectors.
  • With the support of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, work to ensure that the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with our creators and media, and require them to contribute to the creation, production and distribution of our stories on screen, in lyrics, in music and in writing.

This is positive acknowledgement that the government is taking notice of the needs of cultural workers and the cultural industries in Canada.

Equity will continue to advocate to ensure that the needs of our members and our sector remain on the radar of the relevant ministries. We will continue to update you as we learn more.

 

Equity SM Contractual Issues Survey (CLOSED)

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January 18, 2021 - Today Equity launched a survey of Stage Manager members to gather SM contract compliance experiences in the areas of overtime, penalties and appropriate compensation. This information will help Equity Council and staff to better support Stage Manager members.

The survey link has gone out directly via email to members in good standing with a permanent address in Canada who have had an SM contract since 2016.

If you meet these criteria, and did not receive a link to the survey, please contact communications@caea.com.

The survey will close at midnight on January 31, 2021.

 

2021-2024 Canadian Theatre Agreement Now Ratified by All Parties

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January 11, 2020 - Proposed changes for the negotiated 2021-2024 Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) negotiated between Equity and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) has now been ratified by the eligible PACT membership.

The Equity membership previously ratified the Proposed changes to the Agreement in a vote which concluded on Thursday, December 17, 2020.

The 2021-2024 Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) comes into effect today, January 11, 2021 and the Agreement will expire on June 28, 2024.

The CTA consists of the CTA Material Terms Booklet (agreed changes) and the CTA Fee Booklet. These newly-ratified documents should be used in combination with the 2015-2018 CTA until a final 2021-2024 Agreement is available. As of January 2021, the COVID-19 Addendum to the CTA is also in effect indefinitely.

Equity and PACT have agreed to a three-and-a-half-year agreement, with financial increases of 1% in 2021, 1.75% for year-2 starting on June 28, 2021, 2% for year-3 starting on June 27, 2022, and 2% for year-4 starting on June 26, 2023 applying to all minimum fees and other monetary amounts.

Video now available: November 25 - Online Member Meeting with Siobhan Richardson

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Equity is happy to announce that our next online member meeting will be with Siobhan Richardson, Amanda Liz Cutting and Megan Gilron.

 

National Society of Intimacy Professionals (NSIP)
Scenes or Moments of Intimacy
- and -
Support for Performers Mental Health in the time of COVID


Two versions of the recorded education session are below. Downloadable materials follow below the videos.

Video 1 | includes PowerPoint Presentation

 

Video 2 | includes ASL Interpretation

 

Before the pandemic, Intimacy Directors came into industry awareness as specialists who help navigate scenes or moments of an intimate and/or vulnerable nature. Additionally, this included specialization in helping to support creative workspaces in the wake of #metoo.

In the "new normal" of producing during a pandemic, the Intimacy Direction role is again expanding, now including awareness of the impact that the current stressors (mental and physical) can have in our workplace.

In the ever-changing landscape of the live performance industry, and as we return to work during COVID-19, Intimacy Directors can offer various ways to support performers within the role and perspective of Intimacy Direction.

Save the Date: Wednesday, November 25
Time: 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ET
Platform: Online via Zoom webinar *

ASL interpretation will be provided

Due to technical difficulties, a written transcript will not be available.

This session offers insight into the role of Intimacy Directors, and how we all can enter into this new working environment with a clearer understanding of approaching scenes or moments of intimacy at this time.

* 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. 

Anti-Oppression Training Online Member Meeting August 26

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On June 9, 2020, Equity Council convened a special meeting to discuss the current state of the community in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and commit to action in response to the urgent needs of the membership. From that meeting, Council committed to four actions.

The final of these commitments was that the next Online Member Meeting would be dedicated to Anti-Oppression training. After a summer hiatus, Equity is proud to offer this important training for our members.

Save the Date: Wednesday, August 26
Time: 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET
Platform:
Online via Zoom webinar
ASL interpretation will be provided

Our guest trainer is Douglas Stewart. Douglas has worked as an equity trainer, dispute resolution officer and Chief Human Rights Advisor and has done extensive work with Equity over the last few years.

A video recording of the seminar is below. A transcript of the meeting is available here. The materials and resources from the meeting are available for download HERE (member login required)

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.

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

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.