President Finlay COVID-19 update – December 2020

Dear Members –

Last month, news of a potential vaccine offered, in my words, a “glimmer of cautious hope”. Now that hope has materialized; the initial delivery of Canada’s newly-approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is expected this week. Not surprisingly, the timelines for widespread distribution of this vaccine and when its use will support the safe return of live music performances in front of live audiences are both unknowns at this time. The Canadian government predicts that the majority of people who want the vaccine will have it by the end of 2021 (for more information, see this page for a CBC report from December 10/20).

If nothing else, we have certainly had to learn how to effectively cope with an ever-changing pandemic landscape.

GOVERNMENT of MANITOBA announces $3 million dollar “Safe at Home Manitoba” grant program (a.k.a. There’s (some potential music) work in them there hills, Pardner)

From the December 7/20 news release on the Manitoba government’s website:

The Manitoba government has launched a new Safe at Home Manitoba grant, which will enable people staying home this holiday season to enjoy creative cultural, artistic, and fitness activities delivered by Manitoba organizations and businessesThe Safe at Home Manitoba grant will provide $3 million in grant funding to a wide variety of Manitoba organizations and individuals who are able to produce free programming for Manitobans to stay safe at home, such as live streaming of the performing arts, cooking classes, at-home fitness programs, and home-based art programs for children.

Grants of up to $50,000/project will be adjudicated by five organizations selected by the Manitoba government. As one would expect, there are eligibility requirements and an application process that must be followed. One of the main stipulations is that there must be no admission fee for the public to attend safely delivered programs. Individual artists as well as organizations are invited to apply. The application process will close when the grant funds are exhausted.

Please see links below for some of the programming that is already up and running.

GOVERNMENT of MANITOBA $5,000 Bridge Grant

From the Manitoba Government website: 

The Manitoba Bridge Grant provides a $5,000 grant to eligible Manitoba businesses and organizations that are required to fully close their premises to the public as a result of Manitoba COVID-19 Prevention Orders in effect as of November 12, 2020 or any revisions to those Orders.

If your situation makes you eligible for this program, it may be helpful to check it out. Not every business qualifies.

Federal Government CRB program – slight change –

As of the fifth cycle of the CRB program, applicants are now required to complete one addition section, explaining how their income is actually being impacted by the pandemic. I suggest you refer to this YouTube video if you want a little more information before you wade in.

Let’s Talk about CERB (please skip this if it does not apply!)

If you have received a CRA letter informing you that you might not have been eligible to collect CERB and therefore you may be required to return it, you appear to have quite a lot of company. In fact, I have already heard from members of Local 190 who have found themselves in this very situation.

For some self-employed people – which many musicians are – their “good faith” error has likely resulted from interpreting “self-employment income” (which is frequently mentioned under eligibility requirements on the CRA’s website) to mean revenues (i.e. gross income before expenses) rather than net income, which is the money (profit, hopefully) remaining after eligible expenses are deducted from revenues. For a more detailed discussion of this, visit this Canadian accountant’s YouTube page.

While the CRA has not changed its definition of what is considered self-employment income, the majority of CRA web pages regarding the CERB and its eligibility requirements do not mention the distinction between gross and net self-employment income. One must scroll down the CRA’s CERB FAQs page where the definition is found under the Self-Employed and Independent Workers heading.

On December 9/20, Senator Patricia Bovey raised this exact issue in the Senate, and asked whether the government is considering the plight of those who received CERB based on their gross self-employment income. She also asked about penalty and interest taxpayer relief for those who are not able generate the income required to repay the benefit as requested, and especially not by the optimal date of December 31/20. The Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative to the Senate), assured Senator Bovey that “the last thing this government intends to do is punish Canadians who acted in good faith” and that, after further investigation of the situation, he would address her questions in a timely manner.

In the meantime, if you are affected, you may want to consult with an accountant for clearer direction and advice about dealing with the CRA.

I would be interested to know if you have been affected by this gross/net income issue. I do not need to know the exact details, but if I hear from a number of members who have been impacted, I will take it up the chain. Please email me using the subject line CERB situation.

petition has been started at should you wish to participate.

C.F.M. update

While there may not be many new posts on the C.F.M. website or Facebook page, that does not mean that the head office staff has been idle.

Currently, a significant area of behind-the-scenes focus is the revision of Canada’s copyright legislation, which will ultimately impact the royalties paid to musicians and others who create content. One important sticking point appears to be whether internet-based media delivery services should be considered as broadcasters, meaning they would be required to pay more to the creators of the content that drives their business models and profits.

Vice President from Canada A.F.M. Alan Willaert is a bulldog when it comes to bettering the lot of Canadian members and no doubt he will not relent in his fight to get us our rightful compensation.

 Local 190 update

 A huge thank you to all the members who have already paid their 2021 membership dues! This year most of our members will receive their reminder via email, and all are encouraged to submit payment by e-transfer if possible. The electronic communication and payments save our Local a significant amount of money and we appreciate your cooperation very much.

 The Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) is still taking applications for 100% funded live streaming concerts. There are specific requirements and if you would like more information on this funding resource, please visit the MPTF streaming information webpage and then contact us.

 To listen to fellow A.F.M. performers that are streaming performances through this program check out the MPTF’s Facebook page!

 The Executive Board will hold its final meeting for 2020 on December 22/20, so if you have items you wish to bring to our attention, please get in touch before then.


Here’s to FUN that is priceless and – in many cases – free…

  • Check out RMTC’s FREE!!!! upcoming show ALL IS BRIGHT which features a huge slate of Manitoba talent including Local 190 members! It streams at 7:30 p.m. December 19 – 31st. For more information and to book free ticket(s) go here
  • Legislative Holiday Show – Safe at Home Manitoba streams live December 18/20 at 6 p.m. Details here.
  • Skills Manitoba Online Safe at Home Challenge has 6 different challenges (gingerbread house; cookies; print media; photography; birdfeeder and game art) which are scheduled for various dates through to late January. Information and contest entry rules can be found here
  • Stircrazy kid free/low cost family activity ideas here
  • Check the other free offerings planned for Safe at Home Manitoba
  • Winnipeg for Free Facebook page
  • DIY Craft Bar Facebook page (not free)

Support our Fellow Members!

It was certainly my hope that I would not still be sending out COVID updates in December, but so be it. Thanks for reading and take care!

Janice Finlay