Response to MusicNL from Sylvie Tessier (Director, Ministerial Correspondence Secretariat for Canadian Heritage) Regarding COVID-19 Letter) REGARDING COVID-19 LETTER

Please see the original letter from MusicNL here

Dear Ms. House:

I am writing in response to your correspondence addressed to the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, regarding support for musicians, artists and arts organizations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Guilbeault appreciates your taking the time to share your thoughts on this matter. Please excuse the delay in my reply.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many organizations across the country, forcing them to close to help protect the health and safety of the Canadian population. The Government of Canada is grateful for their support, as the health and safety of Canadians remain its top priority.

As you may know, on May 8, 2020, Minister Guilbeault announced the details of the $500 million COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.

As the culture and heritage industry continues to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government continues its efforts to support affected organizations that face significant challenges and financial pressures. Accordingly, on July 7, 2020, Minister Guilbeault announced new measures. More information on this announcement can be found online.

Supporting artists, arts and culture organizations is important to the Government, and it has taken a number of steps to protect this sector and its workers during the crisis. In his initial announcement in March, Minister Guilbeault confirmed that the Department of Canadian Heritage would continue to disburse funding for organizations should their events be cancelled, postponed or changed. He also urged them to continue to pay the artists and technicians whose contracts may have been affected.

These further measures are meant to complement other Government measures designed to help Canadian workers and employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Business Credit Availability Program, and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for Small Businesses. I would also like to note that organizations must sign an attestation indicating that they will use the funds to support artists, independent workers and creators before they can receive the funds.

The Government created the CERB with a view of making it accessible to people who would not qualify for Employment Insurance, such as workers who are self-employed or depend on contracts. This was provided for in part as a recognition of the nature of the work in the arts and culture sector and to ensure that artists earning royalties would not be penalized.

On June 16, 2020, the Government announced the extension of the CERB for a period of eight weeks in an effort to provide Canadians with the necessary support as they transition back to work. This extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks. More information on this announcement can be found online.

The Department is working closely with its partners, in particular the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA), Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund (CMF), as well as FACTOR and Musicaction, to distribute the emergency funds as quickly as possible.

You may be interested to learn that up to $326.8 million of the Emergency Fund will be distributed by the Department. Of this fund, $198.3 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding via existing programs, as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs.

Furthermore, the CCA will be distributing $55 million to help arts organizations that support artists. Lastly, the Canadian audiovisual sector will receive $115.8 million, from which 88.8 million will be distributed by the CMF and 27 million, by Telefilm Canada. The use of the remaining funds will be assessed based on needs.

The Canada Music Fund will also set aside $20 million to help Canadian music entrepreneurs and organizations in the live music sector who do not normally receive benefit from this Fund such as artist managers, booking agents, concert promoters and for-profit festivals and venues. Further, $5 million will be allocated for Canadian-owned record labels and recording studios, as well as music video producers and music publishers that are not recipients of the Fund and have not received any emergency support.

That said, it should be noted that the CERB falls under the mandate of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. Accordingly, I have taken the liberty of forwarding your correspondence to her for consideration.

Please be assured that the Government is working hard on a transparent and equitable approach to distributing these funds, and that it will continue to act quickly to support the cultural, heritage and sports communities in these difficult times.

Please accept my best wishes.


Sylvie Tessier
Ministerial Correspondence Secretariat

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