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Open letter: Canadian artists urgently need a social safety net

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

The Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

The Hon. Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage


Dear Ministers,

As we are still experiencing a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian artists urge the Federal Government to extend emergency income support for self-employed and gig workers, with a view to finding a long-term social safety net for our sector.

We applaud the Government’s leadership in working with us to best support self-employed workers with the introduction of Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Recovery Benefit during this very difficult time. This support has been a lifeline for many cultural workers, and we appreciate the Government’s commitment to help artists and the cultural industries recover, because as you know: we were among the first to close and we will be among the last to recover. Beyond recovery, we welcome the opportunity to consult with you about much needed reform to Employment Insurance programs, which are often out of reach for self-employed artists when they need it most.

The Liberal Party’s platform includes commitments to implement a transitional support program for out-of-work self-employed artists, and to hold a summit within 100 days to discuss restarting our industry. Meanwhile, 750,000 Canadians are still receiving much needed support from the Canada Recovery Benefit, which is set to expire in just a few days, without that transition plan in place.

Some of them are our members, and we know they cannot wait 100 days to begin discussions about recovery without that support, and so we urge you to extend the CRB until an alternative option is in place.

We hope we can count on the Government of Canada to make this adjustment and ensure that Canadian artists will not be left behind.


Paddy Lamb, National President of CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation)
Eleanor Noble, ACTRA National President
David Farsi, Président du Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec (RAAV)
Rhea Tregebov, Chair of the Writers Union of Canada
Sasha Sobrino, General Manager, Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators



Unfortunately, the government confirmed on October 21 that the CRB will expire and it will be replaced by the new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, which is limited to regions under government-imposed lockdowns. This solution does not take into consideration the working realities of most artists, and the closures that may not necessarily be government-imposed.

We encourage visual artists to complete this very short survey to help us better understand what cancelling the CRB means for our community.

We also urge the Federal Government to find a long-term social safety net for our sector. We fully support the implementation of a Guaranteed Basic Income program, and we also believe that CERB and CRB have set a useful precedent for Employment Insurance reform. CARFAC submitted a brief on EI reform, and we look forward to further consultations about how to modernize EI in ways that make the program relevant to the realities of artists.