President Finlay COVID-19 Update – March 2021

Dear Members

I am wondering whether this “COVID-versary” has prompted you to recall how your world abruptly changed one year ago, with the announcement of Manitoba’s first presumptive COVID-19 case.

As I consider the past year, I am struck by how much uncertainty was (and continues to be) released into everyone’s lives, how pervasive the reach of the pandemic has been, and how we have seen so many different faces of human nature through it all. Further – and I suspect I am like many – I realize that I have spent this year seeking out hope and inspiration.

In that vein, over the past month I had the opportunity to connect by phone with several of our members. Their outlook, creative output and resilience is simply remarkable and truly uplifting. I sincerely hope that, should you choose to review your own pandemic story to date, you are able to celebrate your strengths, appreciate your ability to survive – maybe even thrive – in the face of great difficulty and applaud the creative ways you have found to move forward.


From the Manitoba Education COVID Bulletin #9 (March 12/21):

Indoor singing and the playing of instruments, including wind instruments, may resume in K to 12 schools, both as part of music classes and as part of extra-curricular activities, provided (that certain) mandatory conditions are met. These conditions specify that the total number of participants (including instructor) may not exceed 25; physical distancing requirements must be met through chair arrangements/ shielding (specifications are supplied in the bulletin) and cleaning protocols must be completed as specified. There are numerous other conditions in the Bulletin, which can be accessed here.

This news follows on the heels of relaxed restrictions that end March 25/21 and specify that:

  • professional theatre groups, dance companies, symphonies and operas to resume rehearsals that are not accessible to members of the public.
  • dance, theatre and music facilities can open for a total capacity of 25 per cent.



Federal Benefits

The Canadian Government has recently put forward a bill that would:

  • add 12 more weeks to the existing 26-week duration of benefits available under the CRB (Canada Recovery Benefit) and the CRCB (Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit;
  • double the number of weeks available under the CRSB (Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit) and
  • increase the number of weeks of EI regular benefits by 24 weeks to a maximum of 50 for claims made with the year prior to September 25/21.

The bill is presently in the Senate for final debate and approval, so news on the fate of the bill will likely come this week. Read the press release here.

CRA Account Lockout – Perhaps you have heard that the CRA has locked 800,000 users out of their CRA accounts as a preventive measure against potential fraudulent access to the accounts of locked-out users’ accounts due to compromised user ID/password information. It is important to note that the information was not harvested from the CRA website, and has to do with people re-using the same User ID/passwords on sites other than the CRA.

If you apply for your CRB through the CRA portal, you may want to try logging into your CRA account to see if you are one of the unfortunate people who have had their user ID and password revoked. Having experienced this issue in January I can tell you the process for regaining access can prove, shall we say, difficult. Be wary of trying more than 5 times to get in – you will be locked out and MUST call the CRA in order for your account to be unlocked through actual contact with an agent…a process that can be, shall we say, incredibly frustrating.

You can read about two options for accessing your CRA account here. Once you can access your account, you will not be able to have full access until a security code arrives by (snail) mail, BUT you will be able to apply for CRB and NETFILE your taxes. Note that calling in about the issue is not recommended until March 22/21 or later.

Provincial Benefits

Additional Bridge Grant Funding: On March 5/21, The Manitoba Government announced that Bridge Grant Recipients previously registered with the program will receive an automatic additional payment of up to $5,000. (subject to eligibility). Note that Home-Based businesses have been included in this program and several of our members have been able to benefit as a result. The press release can be found here and more information on the extension as well as the program and eligibility requirements for Home-Based businesses can be found here

Expanded Safe at Home Manitoba funding: See the press release from February 22/21 here. The funding application deadline has passed, but the full roster of events continues in many cases until the end of March. Check out the free programming here.

C.F.M. Update

As always, behind-the-scenes lobbying on behalf of our members by Alan Willaert and the CFM head office staff continues. Issues include the extension of the CRB and other COVID related income support benefits, Universal Basic Income and the establishment of a national pharmacare program. For the most current information, please visit the CFM’s Facebook page.

Local 190 Update

Congratulations to our Local 190 members who have been nominated for 2021 JUNO awards! Best wishes go to:

  • Steve Bell: Wouldn’t You Love to Know  – nominated for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year;
  • Alexa Dirks (Begonia): Fear – nominated for Adult Alternative Album of the Year
  • James Ehnes: Bach & Brahms Reimagined and Beethoven Violin Sonatas Nos.4, 5 & 8 –  both nominated for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber. These TWO nominations bring James a  career total of 30 JUNO nominations!
  • Jocelyn Gould: Elegant Traveler – nominated for Jazz Album of the Year: Solo category
  • William Prince: Reliever – nominated for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year

Local Secretary-Treasurer Kelly Komadowski has been incredibly busy helping numerous members put the appropriate contracts and scales in place for the multiple online performances our members are now presenting. Please ensure that you check the rates/contract requirements prior to doing a FB live or other streamed and/or recorded performance in order to protect your work and adhere to the scales required.

On March 24th at noon Local 190 is presenting the third webinar in our Taking Care of Business Series, which is intended to support our members in the day-to-day business of our industry by addressing the practical, contractual and financial aspects of life as a musician. This month, Matt Craig (M.R.O.C. Musician Liaison) presents Understanding Your Neighbouring Rights Royalties. Since I did focus on this in my March 1 Prelude, to avoid duplication I have attached the pdf (and for a sneak peak at the April webinar, I have also attached its pdf). If you are not able to access the pdf, please contact the office for assistance. Register at least one day prior by contacting the office.


PAL Canada  From the website: PAL Canada is inviting creative seniors to join them for their continuing virtual “Check in and Chat” gathering “Tea Time”. Every Monday and Thursday from 3pm to about 3:45pm, participants will have the opportunity to chat with their guest host(s) or just listen to them sing, play, share their stories or tell you silly jokes. On March 18, at 3pm EST, (PAL presents) Chilina Kennedy, Broadway star of “Beautiful – The Carole King Story.” Sign up for Tea Time here“Check in and Chat” is a project for seniors, administered by seniors and senior artists. 

Take care until next time – Janice