Unions seek COVID-19 income support for entertainment industry workers

2020.03.13

CWA Canada and its partner unions are urging the federal government to include entertainment industry workers who don’t have access to employment insurance (EI) in income-support measures in response to the coronavirus.

“Many in our industry are not classified as employees, and therefore not eligible for EI for any loss of work due to the coronavirus pandemic,” says a letter sent to Minister of Health Patty Hadju and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough.

“While we are pleased that you indicate income support for those workers will be ‘explored’, we urge you to take precise action in the coming days.”

The letter is signed by CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon, on behalf of the Fairness in Factual TV campaign; John Lewis, Vice President, Canadian Region, IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees); David Sparrow, National President of ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists); and David Forget, National Executive Director of DGC (Directors Guild of Canada).

They note in their letter that there have already been cancellations of television productions and there are expected to be more. Production insurance is not covering cancellations related to COVID-19.

“Workers who are signed to those shows rely on those contracts which can range from several days to several months. The loss of that expected income would be devastating for many.

“This industry is just one of many where workers are not defined as employees under the Canada Labour Code. Your government has often stated that it intends to find ways to improve conditions for people who work in the ‘gig economy’. Extending the $1-billion package for COVID-19 to cover all workers would be a tangible demonstration of that commitment.”

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