Write your Federal MP to Extend the C.E.R.B.!
Canada Emergency Response Benefit—Background
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a federal benefit created to provide temporary income support available to Canadians forced to stop working because of COVID-19. It provides $500 per week for a maximum of 16 week. It is currently the only direct income support available to independent contractors.
Given that states of emergency and bans on large public gatherings are still in place across the country, it will be some time until the live performance sector returns to work. Continued CERB support is critical for ADC members who are mostly self-employed contractors, and ineligible for Employment Insurance.
The 16-week CERB claim window for designers who lost income at the start of the pandemic—and had to start claiming the benefit with the first period—ends on July 4, 2020. It's clear that the live performance sector will be among the very last to reopen, and this prolonged closure will seriously restrict our members' access to work opportunities and ability to earn income.
ADC members (and all designers) need the CERB support extended beyond the current 16-week maximum, until venues and rehearsal spaces are able to open, or they will face serious economic uncertainty.
The ADC has formed a coalition with our colleagues at IATSE, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, and the Canadian Actors' Equity Association, and we are presently meeting with an ever-growing list of bureaucrats and MPs, building support to extend the CERB. While we press the Government for this extension, it's been impressed upon us the value of individual advocacy. ADC members and designers can make a difference today by writing your MPs to urge extension of the CERB.
Contact Your Local MP
Use the link below to find your local MP, and email them using the template letter we have prepared for you (with a portion ready for your customization). It has been impressed upon us that a personalized letter is much more likely to be read than an entirely form letter.
You can also call your MPs office to speak with them directly: whichever mechanism is most comfortable for you.
Template Email Text: Copy & paste into your email, and create the customized paragraph.
Subject: Extending the CERB for Live Performance Sector Workers
Dear [Mr. Ms, Honourable (if Minister)], Member of Parliament
First, let me thank you, and all representatives, for the rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic. My hope is that we can soon see the light at the end of the tunnel.
INSERT A PERSONALIZED PARAGRAPH TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF. HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER, AND SOME EXAMPLES:
Your field of work.
Contracts lost to date.
Upcoming work you expect to lose.
Other commitments you may now have.
If you have supported your local MPP/MLA with donations or as a volunteer.
Other personalizing details you might want to share.
I am a freelance lighting designer, working in the live performing arts sector in Toronto. As a consequence of the closure of live theatre, I have lost all of my spring and summer contracts, including work with Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto, and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The cumulative effect of cancelled contracts is more than $25,000 in lost income. To compound this immediate loss, all of my upcoming contracts for the fall of 2020 have been cancelled, which will compound these losses even further. With the closure of schools and cancellation of summer camps, I am also now responsible to look after my daughter full-time, including educational responsibilities, which makes it impossible for me to seek out other opportunities that may arise. I was proud to contribute to your campaign in the last federal election, and am so glad to have you as my representative in Ottawa.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in Canada, live performance and entertainment was one of the first sectors to cease operations due to health and safety concerns for audience members and workers. I applauded the rapid implementation of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to help me in this crisis. However, as we look towards recovery, it is clear that live performance and entertainment will be one of the very last sectors to safely reopen.
Live performance designers in Canada are independent contractors and, as a result, we are ineligible for Employment Insurance benefits. Emergency funding like the CERB is critical to help us provide for ourselves and our families until the live performance sector reopens. If the CERB’s current 16-week eligibility maximum is not extended, we are facing imminent and severe economic uncertainty.
I am reaching out to you as my representative in Parliament, I am calling on you to please take action to extend the CERB for freelance artistic and cultural workers until the live performance sector is able to reopen.
Designers are a highly specialized sector of arts workers, with complex and valuable skills. Our creativity contributes to the development of detailed and imaginative worlds, and has a profound impact on the live entertainment sector. We risk losing this skill and talent of a generation or more. With your support, these artists will still be here after the pandemic to share our creativity with all Canadians.
Thank you for taking up my concerns, and in advance for your help to ensure that cultural workers are supported until we can return once again to the stage to share our artistry.