COVID-19 Update – February 2021

Dear Members –

If this pandemic didn’t toughen us up enough, then I guess the Polar vortex intervened to ensure it! Hopefully you and your loved ones have been able to stay warm and healthy since my last email.

Before I head in to the rest of the email, I just wanted to make sure you know about the Local 190’s Taking Care of Business webinar at noon on February 24/2021. The topic is Financial Management, Taxes and More…for Musicians. The session’s timing is intentional since tax season is upon us – although I am not sure that those who are craving a “return to normalcy” are welcoming this particular demonstration of it. Please see the attached PDF for more information, and email Kelly at least one day prior to the webinar to register.

One other note concerns the recording of performances for later streaming. The Board is pleased to see an increasing number of online gig opportunities for our members, including a number occurring through the SafeAtHomeMB program along music-filled programs presented by a variety of other organizations. The potential issue lies with those presenters that pay only for the performance itself, without paying the step-up fees required when a performance is recorded for later transmission. Members leave a great deal of present and potential money on the table – not to mention creating an unfair competition situation and contravening scale minimum requirements, both of which harm them and fellow A.F.M. members – when they allow a recording of their performance for streaming on YouTube or another platform, without payment of additional fees for the recording itself and/or failing to file a union contract. Without a contract, your artistic product is unprotected from future use and reuse without any additional payment to you. Please contact the office before you agree to one of these performances to ensure that you are in compliance with union scale fees and contract terms.

Federal Government Benefit News

First, I encourage everyone to visit a new Federal Government webpage intended to help you find every government benefit you might be eligible to collect. After answering 7 – 10 easy questions, a list of benefit options based on your situation and your province of residence is generated. There is also a listing of other benefit programs you are not eligible for. Answers are done on an individual, not family, basis.

Here is a video that walks you through the process: 10 Canadian Benefits Available Now | How to Check If You’re Eligible for Every Program – YouTube


By far the biggest news is the Federal Government’s recent announcement regarding CERB repayments required from those who, in good faith, collected CERB benefits without meeting the financial threshold for eligibility. Prior to this announcement, many self-employed people in this situation received letters from the CRA in December warning that they could be required to repay the full benefit amount they had received.

The Government’s official press release of February 9/21 states that: “… self-employed individuals whose net self-employment income was less than $5,000 and who applied for the CERB will not be required to repay the CERB, as long as their gross self-employment income was at least $5,000 and they met all other eligibility criteria.”


Anyone who received CERB and or CRB benefits in 2020 will be issued a 2020 T4A within the next month or so. It was made clear from the outset that these were taxable benefits. Some benefit recipients needed every penny they received to pay for rent and food, and as the pandemic continues to disrupt employment, may now be finding themselves in a difficult financial situation that a tax bill could make even worse. In the same press release, the Government recognized this and announced that:

“…the Government of Canada will provide targeted interest relief to Canadians who received COVID-related income support benefits. Once individuals have filed their 2020 income tax and benefit return, they will not be required to pay interest on any outstanding income tax debt for the 2020 tax year until April 30, 2022.”

If you are a post-secondary student, or a recent grad, there are also programs to assist you. Please see the first paragraph of this section to start exploring the options out there.

Province of Manitoba Benefit Programs

Many, but not necessarily all, provincial benefit program application/intake application deadlines have passed. Here is a page that contains information on a variety of Manitoba programs which you may want to carefully investigate in case there is something for which you/your business may be eligible.

If you are struggling with utility or other payments this page outlines Government of Manitoba rules regarding being cut off as a result.

C.F.M. Update

In response to CERB eligibility issue, in mid-December the CFM joined other members of the Creative Industries Coalition in lobbying the Federal Government to mitigate the CERB repayment impact on affected workers in the cultural (and other) sector. Indicating that self-employed “gig” workers continue to be among the most financially distressed in the country, the Coalition asked for clarity and a change to the CRA policy around CERB repayment. For information on the December 20th meeting, please visit this page.

The Federal Government’s reversal (see above) was deemed a success for the Coalition and a letter of gratitude was sent by the Coalition to Prime Minister Trudeau and several cabinet ministers. The hard work of the Coalition appears to have helped move the reversal decision forward, to the benefit of those affected. Please visit this page for more information on the response from the Coalition. The gratitude letter can be viewed here.

Liana White, C.F.M. Executive Director, has been busy dealing with a number of monetary questions around the recording of online performances/electronic media. Please see the third paragraph of this email for important information on this topic.

Finally, the CFM proposes Local 190 member Tom Jackson be Canada’s next Governor General! Check out this story.

Just a reminder that the CFM regularly posts items relevant to our members on its Facebook page.

Local 190 Update

Earlier in this email I mentioned session 2 of the 5 monthly Taking Care of Business webinars being presented free to our members. Please see the attached pdf.

Since January, several Local members have been presenting live-streamed concerts 100% funded by the Music Performance Trust Fund. So far, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra has presented 3 of its series of 5 quintet concerts, and Sister Dorothy will be taking part in International Women’s Day celebrations on March 8. You can find out more through our Local’s Facebook page. You can also take the opportunity to hear a multitude of other AFM members by checking out this MPTF Facebook page for the live stream schedule and concert presentations.

The office continues to operate remotely, with both phone calls and emails reaching Kelly as normal. The Board and various committees continue to meet online, and Local 190 officers participate regularly in training and other national level meetings.

Finally, thank you to all who have already paid their membership dues. Extensive use of the e-transfer payment option has saved your Local a great deal of money.


211: LIFE can be HARD. FINDING HELP can be EASY

Call 211 or visit for an incredibly comprehensive listing of resources that are available for housing, food, finances, crisis assistance, mental health and addictions, older adult services and many more challenging situations people may be facing. The 211 program connects people to helpful resources and support that they may need to cope with challenging life situations or issues.

Help Next Door

If you want to help someone else or need help yourself: Province of Manitoba, HelpNextDoorMB (

Support for K-12 Online Learners

If you have K-12 online learners in your life, here is a resource from the Manitoba Government: My Learning at Home, Manitoba Education (

Until next time,

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