A new law that changes Canada’s work permit rules might make it more difficult for American producers do business north of the border. “This effectively shuts down the ability for American producers to bring up actors, producers and directors to work on the shows up here,” an American producer shooting in Vancouver tells Deadline. The law was intended to reduce the number of foreign workers employed in the Canadian fast-food and oil-pipeline industries, but it could create a problem for the film and television industry.
The new law, which took effect Friday, requires employers to give 15 days’ notice before applying for permits to hire foreign workers. For American TV producers working under tight shooting schedules in Canada, this added lead time could make it much more difficult to bring in people from the States. Says the U.S. producer, “With less than eight days’ lead time and not a deep pool of Canadian actors and directors, not being able to hire American actors and directors will doom the large Canadian production industry.”
Canadian film industry officials, however, say they are working on a fix for the problem. “We’re looking for a solution so that business is not impacted,” said Paul Klassen, business rep of IATSE Local 891 in Vancouver. “We’ll do what we can.”
Finding a quick and lasting fix was the topic of today’s board meeting of the Motion Picture Industry Association of British Columbia, which was attended by representatives from the Canadian actors union, IATSE, and the British Columbia film office. “All the major players were there,” said Klassen, who also attended. “We’re working with the government offices. There are a couple of proposals on the table, and we’re just trying to figure out which one works. It may not be a problem at all.”
A rep for the British Columbia actors union agrees. “We do not anticipate this to be a problem going forward as we are actively engaged with a government who we believe understands and will quickly react to the needs of the film and TV industry,” said Russ Neely, industry relations officer for the Union of BC Performers. “Industry partners are working together to ensure that as soon as possible quicker turnarounds are once again the norm.”