In 1999, CARFAC was certified by the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal (CAPPRT), which is now the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) 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. As such, it strives to improve the economic, social and political status of professional artists through fair compensation for their work as well as the implementation of social benefits that other laborers enjoy. 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.
Currently, the national association of CARFAC and its partner, RAAV, are certified by CIRB to represent visual artists in Quebec and the rest of Canada. This means that CARFAC National and RAAV can negotiate collective agreements with all federal institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (including embassies), the Canadian Museum of Civilization, etc. Once a signed federal agreement is reached with an institution and is ratified by the membership of the certified organization, it is legally binding and will set a major precedent for other federal and even provincial institutions.
In addition to the federal legislation, movements have been made to enact Status at provincial levels. The Act was passed and became law in Saskatchewan at the provincial level in 2002, and intensive consultations have recently taken place in Ontario.
CARFAC and RAAV came to a first agreement with the National Gallery of Canada in fall 2014.