Dear Members –
Last week I came across a small book from the 50’s belonging to my 86-year-old Mom. Like all autograph books of the time, it was filled with pages of jokes, prose and comments, all neatly signed by her school-aged friends.
As we once again wrestle with a full lockdown, the words on one page particularly resonated with me: Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.
According to Quote Investigator, this quote is variously attributed to poet Walt Whitman, Charles Swain, Helen Keller or listed as a Maori Proverb. Whatever the source, I find the wisdom in these words both a guide and a comfort. Maybe you will too.
Federal Government 2021 Budget News
In April, the Liberal government presented its 2021 Budget, which is currently making its way through government channels prior to the final vote. If passed, there are some items included within it that may impact our members.
CEWS: For those of you presently working in a job with wages that are subsidized via the CEWS (Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy) program, the Budget announcement included an extension of CEWS to September 25/21, and possibly beyond that.
CRB: It was also announced that eligibility for the CRB (Canada Recovery Benefit) will be extended by an additional 12 weeks (6 two-week eligibility periods) within the program’s one-year timeframe, which ends September 25/21. Initially the CRB program allowed people to claim up to 38 weeks (19 two-week eligibility periods) within the 52 weeks between September 27/20 and September 25/21. The subsidy provided $500/week less 10% withholding taxes.
With the announced change, these 19 periods would increase to 25 periods with payment amounts reduced in the later periods (from $500 to $300 before withholding tax deduction). Those already receiving the benefit prior to July 18/21 would be eligible to claim up to a maximum of 42 weeks (21 periods) at $500/week after which payments will decrease to $300/week. Those who apply after July 18th/21 would only be eligible for the $300/week amount for the 6 remaining periods before the program is scheduled to end.
By the way, if you claimed regular EI benefits during the twelve months prior to September 25/21, your number of eligible CRB periods would be reduced accordingly.
Russell Matthews does a great job explaining this complex information in his YouTube video on the topic.
CCBYCS: Those of you with a child or children under the age of six may be interested to know that the CCB young child supplement (Bill C-14) benefit top up was passed recently. You can follow this link to find out what your family may be entitled to receive under the new CCBYCS. You (and your spouse, if applicable) will have had to file your 2019 and 2020 tax returns in order to automatically receive this benefit. The amount you will receive is income tested and there are rules for shared custody situations. The first CCBYCS payment date will be issued at the end of May, and it will include payments for the first two quarters of 2021.
Also, again Russell Matthews covers it in more detail on this YouTube video (skip the blurb towards the end if you are not interested in his promo on investing).
Rebuilding the Culture, Entertainment and Recreation Sectors
The Budget includes significant funding to help workers in the Culture, Entertainment and Recreation Sectors. Independent Manitoba Senator Patricia Bovey has written a detailed assessment of the potential impacts of the proposed Budget measures on the Arts sector including a breakdown of the funding for this portion of the Budget.
I have attached her letter for your interest. Some of the news looks promising.
Canadians 75 Years or Older
Subject to the Budget passing, this demographic will receive a one-time $500 payment in August to help defray extra expenses incurred in order to stay safer during the pandemic .
MPTF Music Family Scholarships open May 1 to June 1 2021
Now in its second year, this scholarship encourages the children of professional musicians to pursue higher education through $100,000 in available funds shared among qualified applicants across North America. Applicants must be children of a member in good standing of the AFM, or be a member themselves, and planning to attend a post-secondary institution in the fall in any field. For the fact sheet and application form visit this page.
MPTF funding available for live stream performances
Until the end of July it is possible to obtain 100% funding for online live streamed performances, subject to certain eligibility and application criteria. After that date, the 50% co-funding requirement returns for most performances. For more information about creating this potential gig opportunity please see this page.
Alan Willaert, AFM Vice President from Canada, has been very vocal in calling for significant improvements to proposed CRB Budget Amendments. On behalf of Canada’s professional musicians, he is raising concerns about the proposed reduction in benefit payment amounts and the potential end of the CRB benefit program.
Mr. Willaert notes that it will take time for the infrastructure to rebuild and audiences to return, once we turn the corner on the pandemic. Until this happens, there will continue to be little or no work available for professional musicians and other entertainment business workers and the devastating financial impacts on self-employed and gig workers will continue.
I strongly recommend that you read this press release from the CFM if you would like to see the position of our union on this very important topic.
The CFM Facebook page has up-to-date and relevant posts on an ongoing basis.
We continue to work remotely but are available via phone and email contact as usual. A reminder that if you are struggling financially due to the CVOID-19 pandemic, you can reach out to the office to be put in touch with some available resources.
Attached please find a pdf regarding the final session in our 2021 Taking Care of Business webinar series. The topic is the Musicians’ Pension Fund (Canada) and it promises to be full of great information and a Q & A session. Even if you have not yet participated in this incredible benefit of CFM/AFM membership, plan to stop by to see why you don’t want to miss out. Register at least one day ahead through the office, for this online event taking place at noon, Wednesday May 26/21.
And finally, you may want to COMPLETE THIS SURVEY!
The Department of Canadian Heritage is inviting all artists and content creators to participate the Canadian Artists and Content Creators Economic Survey.
From the webpage: The purpose of this survey is to help create an updated portrait of the artistic and creative community in Canada. This data gathering is important to help ensure policies and programs continue to be responsive to the sector’s reality.
Share your story! The survey will help develop a better understanding of the realities and experiences of artists and content creators in Canada prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to participate?
The survey is available online from May 10 to June 18 and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Participation is voluntary and anonymous. Here is the link to the survey.
Until next time,
Janice Finlay, B.Mus., B.Sc.
Music Professionals of Manitoba, Inc.