Campaign to Extend the CERB

On June 5th, 2020, The Canadian Federation of Musicians with Canadian Actors' Equity Association, IATSE, and Associated Designers of Canada wrote a joint letter to Ministers and MPs across Canada to extend the CERB. Please read below for the full transcript. The CFM is encouraging all locals officers and members to write to their elected officials in support of an extention of the CERB. Please click HERE for an easy-to-use template: and click HERE to sign an online petition.


June 5, 2020

As a coalition of Canada’s entertainment workers representing performers, musicians, designers, directors, and technicians, we would like to express our gratitude for your efforts to support our industry and the people who work within it. Our coalition is comprised of the IATSE, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, and the Associated Designers of Canada. Collectively, we represent over 50,000 workers in the entertainment industry, across both live performance and film & television. Entertainment was the first to go down, and it will be the last to return – particularly the live performance sector.

There is virtually 100% unemployment in our industry and our members are experiencing wage losses in the range of $130 million per month. Due to the freelance/gig nature of our work, fewer than 2% of our members are receiving support through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). Further, many are contract workers and not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). The only support available to a large portion of entertainment workers is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

We are writing today with one request, that every organization in this group has coalesced behind – the extension of the CERB. Although the program runs until October 3, the maximum eligibility period is 16 weeks. Because most entertainment industry workers applied right away, they will be maxing out benefits at some point in July. We are therefore requesting an extension of both the maximum eligibility period beyond 16 weeks, and the end date of the program; until at least the end of the calendar year, or potentially until the industry is allowed by governments to return. Many entertainment workers have skills that are marketable to other industries, such as set carpenters, scenic painters, musicians, or hair stylists. If the CERB is not extended, these workers will be forced to leave for other industries so that they can put food on the table, and many will not return once our industry reopens. This would result in a huge loss of skills and experience for Canada’s cultural landscape.

We recognize that a blanket extension of the program may not be possible. If an industry-specific extension for entertainment were possible, we would welcome a requirement that applicants provide proof that the majority of their income from the previous year was derived from the entertainment industry. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for all your efforts, which have meant that many members of the gig economy have been able to stay afloat. We thank you for your consideration and would welcome the opportunity for further discussion. 

Sincerely, John M. Lewis, IATSE;  Arden R. Ryshpan, CAEA; Alan Willaert, CFM;  Ken MacKenzie, ADC

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