TORONTO, ON – Today, the IATSE was granted an exclusive audience with Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault to discuss ways in which the federal government could best support the entertainment industry and its workers. The meeting included Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister Julie Dabrusin, MP, and representatives from the IATSE International, as well as 40 IATSE Local Union leaders – one from every IATSE Local Union in Canada. Through necessity, the meeting took place via conference call, with the positive consequence that every trade and region was represented.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic hardship to all workers, but with virtually 100% unemployment, the entertainment industry has been hit particularly hard. Minister Guilbeault spoke knowledgably about the situation facing workers in both the film and live performance sectors and held a question-and-answer session following his remarks. The IATSE was able to pose questions raised by members with regard to governmental supports being provided by the federal government, including the newly announced Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, and also raised concerns regarding the ability of producers, particularly smaller theatres and companies, to bounce back once the crisis is over. Minister Guilbeault assured representatives that the Ministry of Heritage shares the goal of seeing the entertainment industry and its workers successfully through this crisis.
Following the meeting, International Vice President & Director of Canadian Affairs John Lewis said, “The IATSE is grateful to Minister Guilbeault and his staff for their willingness to work with us toward solutions. From the beginning, they have listened with open minds about what the industry needs, what is working, and what might need more attention. We are also thrilled with the supports announced by the federal government, which address the concerns we raised regarding employed vs. self-employed workers, and those who had maxed out EI benefits over the slower winter months.”