COVID-19 Update – January 2021

Dear Members,

New year…new vaccines…new optimism…old pandemic and its restrictions. Dang! Still, this represents a significant improvement compared to the past 10 months!

However, there is no denying that members of our industry continue to bear the heavy financial and emotional burdens of being unable to work in the settings or quantity we were used to.

Therefore, following the UPDATES section, I have decided to provide extensive information/resources and links intended to help if you feel like a boost regarding your creativity, mental and physical well-being and/or your personal finances. Due to the amount of information, each topic is summarized below with a full listing of links you can download here:

Many of the links come from the terrific BLOG found on

Also a reminder to attend our upcoming online professional development session this Wednesday at noon! It is free and really relevant if you do any recording. You should have already gotten the notice about this, but just in case you need it again, the pdf attached to this email.


Federal Government Benefit Programs

The CRB (Canada Recovery Benefit) is:

  • Intended to help replace income lost when COVID-19 related reasons result in a reduction of 50% or more income/net income after expenses for the self-employed;
  • If you are eligible, the benefit is $1000/period minus $100 withholding taxes;
  • Must be reapplied for each time you seek the benefit
  • Must be applied for not later than 60 days after the end of the period for which you are claiming the benefit;
  • May be claimed for a maximum of 13 two-week periods within a one year period, so you may need to consider that there will come a time when that income replacement benefit will end, with no support program to replace it.
  • May be denied if you travel internationally prior to claiming it
  • CERB:
    • All CERB recipients will receive a T4A slip between now and March 10th. The benefit amount must be reported as income (line 13000) on their 2020 income tax return. Visit this page for more information.
    • CRA repayment letters update
    • Petition if interested (closes January 23/21)
    • see attached CERB pdf for information (since this problem does not affect everyone)
    • Home Office Expenses for Employees:
      • If you hold an additional job where you are an employee and between March 15/20 through to December31/20 you had to work remotely as a result of COVID-19, the Federal government has created a program that may allow you to claim certain associated costs for commuting, parking, meals, computer and/or office equipment and cell-phone or internet plans.
      • As always, you are advised to consult with an accountant or contact the CRA to determine whether you can claim these expenses if you are a self-employed worker already claiming these expenses as deductions.
      • Here is a news item on the topic: The expenses you can claim on your 2020 tax return if you’ve been working from home (CTV News)

Manitoba Government Programs

  • SafeatHomeMB grants – applications closed as of December 31/20.
  • Manitoba Bridge Grant – Home Based Businesses program: May be of interest to – among other – sole proprietors who run a full-time home-based business that has been impacted by Manitoba COVID-19 Prevention Orders since 11/12/20. There are several eligibility criteria and the application deadline is January 31/21 or at the discretion of the Manitoba Government. Find out more here


Together with cultural associations, other unions and guilds representing over 75,000 Canadian artist and cultural workers, CFM staff met virtually with MP Julie Dabrusin and other Federal Government representatives on December 17/20. The concern surrounded the issue of self-employed artists’ eligibility for the CERB as expressed in a CRA letter that went to over 400,000 Canadians.

The associations were looking for clarity and a change to the CRA policy pertaining to this issue. The government to date has not committed to make the requested policy change.

You may wish to read this page on the CFM website if you have received one of the dreaded CRA CERB repayment letters.



We are delighted to announce that the Executive Board has two new members!

Greg Gatien and M.J. Dandeneau officially joined the Board January 13/21 and, in addition to being highly regarded musicians, both bring a wealth of experience and energy with them to the table. Greg and M.J. will join returning Executive Board members Jeff Presslaff, Tori Sparks, Tony Cyre and Kathryn Sigsworth (V.P.) Kelly Komadowski (Secretary-Treasurer) and I will commence the second full year of our terms.


The Board also had to say goodbye in December to long-time Board member Dan Donahue. Dan’s contributions to the Board were invaluable and we greatly appreciate his input and devotion over his many years of service.


Local 190’s Education Committee has put together TAKING CARE of BUSINESS, a monthly series of professional development sessions to help our members learn more about the practical, contractual and financial aspects of life as a musician. Your Local is here to share information about resources available to our members and to support you in the day-to-day business of our industry.

The first session is Recording? Let’s Talk Electronic Media Contracts with presenter (and former Winnipegger!) Rosalyn Dennett. This 45-minute session will provide up-to-date information on agreements and contracts, including how to maximize your revenues by choosing the right contract for your project. The information applies to all types of recording projects covered by current agreements.

A pdf is attached for the first session which takes place WEDNESDAY, January 20th at noon. Please email Kelly to register no later one day before the session.

RESOURCES (also see PDF)

You may want to start here: COVID-19 Resources for the Music Community (


It is clear that some people are finding the time they are being forced to stay home as a welcome break from busy touring or other schedules and are making the most of it to create new work or complete earlier programs. Then there are the “lemonade from lemons” artists who are actually considering this as a time to recharge and rest before their musical activities ramp up.

For others, not playing for live audiences is disheartening and depressing. Still others are bravely trying to stay creative while overseeing the demands of their children’s online learning activities (along with their youthful pent-up energy!).


Download the attached PDF for musician-centric information on creative inspiration (SONG EVERY WEEK club); staying creative during COVID shutdowns; staying motivated during quarantine, transitioning back to work and routines, and D-I-Y creative self help/healing.


The pandemic and its many restrictions continue to impact many people’s health both physically and mentally. If you are struggling, consider it a sign of strength to ask for help.

Here is an awesome music industry resource for mental health and wellness:

BACKLINE has created “Come Together” COVID-19 Crisis” music industry support groups, sharing virtual space weekly on Mondays and Thursdays.

The Zoom sessions will continue to address the anxieties associated with COVID-19’s effects on the music industry, provide information and resources, and support each other during this difficult time. At the end of every meeting, the clinicians will lead a grounding group meditation. To join the meeting, download Zoom, click this URL to join: or, go to enter meeting ID: 789 801 804. You can also dial-in to this phone line: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656.


Download the attached PDF for access to information and resources for self-care, free or subsidized counselling, addiction and substance abuse issues, grief and loss (some of it a result of the pandemic), anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness and suicide.

If you are in crisis, please visit Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba – Immediate Help for a list of crisis support resources (Winnipeg and rural Manitoba), including resources for domestic abuse and suicide (Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support line at 1-877-435-7170).


Certainly many of us have been financially impacted by the almost complete shutdown of our industry. and the financial challenges of sudden income loss are significant. In fact, they may be serious enough that they may be causing you difficulties in keeping afloat financially. The CFM has a COVID-19 Resources page which lists some additional funding support for which you might be eligible.

On February 24th at noon, Local 190 will be offering a free online session entitled Financial Management, Taxes and More… as part of our Taking Care of Business series. More information will be available in February, but save the date!

Download the attached PDF for more really great resources.

If you made it this far, you get an A+ for endurance! I encourage you to explore the ideas and resources in the attached PDF. It took me a long time to create it because I kept coming across so much great information.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Janice Finlay, B. Mus. B.Sc.
President, Music Professionals of Manitoba Inc.
Local 190, AFM