In 1999, CARFAC was certified by the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal as the collective bargaining representative for visual and media artists in Canada, as recognized by the federal Status of the Artist legislation.
What is “Status of the Artist?”
The federal Status of the Artist Act (1992, c.33) recognizes the important role of the creator in society and promotes an understanding of the unique manner in which artists work. The legislation attempts to place artists on an equal footing with other professionals in the labour market and to earn a more equitable share of the profits on their work within the public art economy. As a result, the Status legislation has significant implications for labour law, contract law, copyright law, etc.
It also allows for the certification of trade unions and professional associations to help regulate remuneration and working conditions. In 1997, Status of the Artist legislation conferred the right of artists to collectively bargain at the federal level. This means that a certified organization has the right to negotiate on behalf of self-employed artists within their jurisdiction on a variety of issues including the implementation of standard contracts and wage rates, as well as pensions, unemployment support, and benefits that are enjoyed by employees in other fields.
In addition to the federal legislation, movements have been made to enact Status at provincial levels:
Canadian Industrial Relations Tribunal
The CIRB deals with applications and complaints involving the acquisition and termination of collective bargaining rights for artists’ associations to represent self-employed artists, unfair labour practices and other matters brought forward by artists, artists’ associations or producers in federal jurisdiction.
Who Can Benefit from the CIRB’s Expertise?
The Status of the Artist Act defines artists as independent contractors, who are authors within the meaning of the Copyright Act, directors and performers or other professionals who contribute to the creation of a production. Also, the Professional Category Regulations define additional categories of professional artists who contribute to the creation of a production and who are eligible for coverage under the Act.
By following the procedures specified in section 25 of the Status of the Artist Act, associations representing self-employed artists can obtain legal recognition and the exclusive right to negotiate with producers for the purpose of entering into scale agreements.
Currently, the national association of CARFAC and its partner, RAAV, are certified by CIRB to represent visual and media artists in Canada and Quebec respectively. This means that CARFAC and RAAV can negotiate collective agreements with federal institutions. Once a signed federal agreement is reached with an institution and is ratified by the membership of the certified organization, it is legally binding.
In 2015, CARFAC and RAAV ratified their first scale agreement with the National Gallery of Canada.
Producers in federal jurisdiction include all broadcasting undertakings under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, federal government departments, and the majority of federal government agencies and crown corporations (such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Post Corporation, the National Gallery of Canada, the National Film Board, the National Arts Centre, etc.).
Producers, pursuant to section 24 of the Status of the Artist Act, may also form producers’ associations for the purpose of bargaining and entering into scale agreements under the Act. After filing the necessary information with the Tribunal, a producers’ association has the exclusive right to bargain on behalf of its members.