IATSE is hailing the Canadian government’s efforts to save its arts and entertainment sector during the Covid-19 pandemic through loans and wage subsidies in what is being billed as Canada’s largest economic relief package since World War II. The plan, which still is working its way through the legislative process, also would require international digital companies like Netflix to remit federal sales tax on digital sales.
On Monday, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled the Fall Economic Statement, which includes several significant policy announcements for Canada’s hardest-hit businesses, including tourism, hospitality and arts & entertainment. Altogether, the plan will amount to 3%-4% of Canada’s GDP, she said, and includes money for coronavirus vaccines and assistance to help provinces and territories improve Covid-19 infection control in long-term care facilities, as well as support for lower- and middle-income families.
The aid package will be implemented through a Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, which will offer government-backed loans at below-market interest rates with extended repayment terms of up to 10 years. “This program,” said IATSE, which represents thousands of Canadian film and TV workers, “will assist many IATSE employers in staying afloat until they are able to open their doors to live audiences again.”
To support the planning and presentation of coronavirus-safe events and the arts, including both live and digital, and to provide jobs in these sectors, the government will provide $181.5 million in 2021-22 to the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts to expand their funding programs. This includes a one-year renewal of funding provided in Budget 2019 for the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, and the Canada Music Fund.
The Fall Economic Statement also contains an increase in the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, with the maximum CEWS rate rising from 65% to 75% as of December 20, and continue until March 13. The statement further indicated that government is moving ahead in requiring international companies like Netflix “to remit federal sales tax on digital sales,” the union said.
“The IATSE is thankful for the continued support from the Ministries of Finance and Canadian Heritage and for their recognition of the unique pressures facing the entertainment sector,” said IATSE international vice president John M. Lewis, who is also the union’s Director of Canadian Affairs. “We are very pleased with today’s announcement and look forward to the release of details on these programs. We also note government’s intention to require digital streamers to remit federal sales tax, and we’ll continue to work with government and the CRTC as Bill C-10 makes its way through the legislative process.”