January 29, 2021
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Prime Minister:
As an International Vice President and the Director of Canadian Affairs for the IATSE, I would like to first thank you for the support you have provided to entertainment/gig workers through the CERB, the CRB, and the expanded EI program. These programs have been a lifeline to many workers in our industry, particularly in the live event sector. While these workers have been unable to return to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they stand ready to do their part if called upon. The intent of this letter is to propose transitioning dormant live-event venues into field hospitals, mass vaccination sites, and/or testing sites to help fight COVID-19 in Canada.
The IATSE represents stagehands, riggers, and other craftspeople who work behind the scenes in the live events industry. Our members are uniquely qualified to undertake this work. Earlier this month, members of IATSE Local 56 worked with the Red Cross in Montreal to convert the Stade de soccer de Montréal into housing for COVID-positive homeless people. IATSE Local Unions are able to partner with Live Events Industry employers, many of whom manage the facilities that could be converted. The skills required to convert these facilities are the same as those required to load in rock concerts and other large live events. This is what we do. Industry vendors and IATSE members can typically pre-install the necessary rigging, lighting and video equipment within a twelve-hour period, depending on the size and logistics of the space.
Together, we have a unique opportunity not only to help combat this virus and save lives, but also to get these skilled technicians back to work and create jobs in our communities. We recognize that much of this may be outside the purview of the federal government, and we have also encouraged our Local Union leaders across the country to reach out to their provincial and municipal governments to open these conversations. If there is any assistance your government could provide in supporting this initiative, we would greatly appreciate it.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have about how IATSE members could assist in the vaccine rollout over the coming weeks and months. On behalf of all our Canadian members, I offer you our most sincere thanks.
John Morgan Lewis
Director of Canadian Affairs, International Vice President
cc: The Honourable Stephen Guilbeault P.C., M.P., Minister of Canadian Heritage
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., M.P., Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health
The Honourable Anita Anand, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Service and Procurement Canada