President Finlay COVID-19 Update – November 2021

Dear Members – Welcome to snowy Manitoba weather! What a wonderful Fall we have had, with grass staying green and many golf courses staying open right up until the snow arrived this past week.

I have always believed that one of the reasons Manitoba continues to turn out so many outstanding musicians is the “hunkering down” that colder (and darker) seasons tend to encourage. (They don’t call me Polly-Janna for nothing).

Federal Government Benefit News

The good news is that two existing programs for individuals have been extended to November 20/21 with an increase in eligible weeks, along with additional proposed extensions to May 7/22. The two programs are the CRCB (Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit)/Prestation canadienne de la relance économique pour proches aidants (PCREPA) and the CRSB (Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit)/Prestation canadienne de maladie pour la relance économique (PCMRE)  Please visit the links for more information.

Also positive is the Government’s proposal to continue the CEWS (Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy)/ Subvention salariale d’urgence du Canada (SSUC) until May 7/22 There will be more details to come regarding this program.

However, as I mentioned in last month’s COVID-19 Update, the CRB program/PCRE program was slated to end on October 23/21 and that has come to pass.

If you are/remain eligible to claim CRB/PCRE (and you may want to check), you can still claim for up to the last three periods (up to a total number of 27 periods since the program began). Currently the three remaining claimable periods fall between September 12 and October 23/21. You have a maximum of 60 days after the end of each period to retroactively apply for the CRB/PCRE; the final date that any application is possible would be December 22/21. More information on applications (including issues with applying for Period 28) et al can be found here. (francais)

On October 21/21 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland held a press conference wherein they responded to questions on what is next for Canadian workers now that some benefits are finished. The press conference footage can be accessed here.

I found the press conference to be deeply concerning. In a follow-up press release (francais) subsequent to the above-mentioned press conference, the Honourable Minister Freeland stated that “employment is now back to pre-pandemic levels”. What?? This is, for me, both a startling and disturbing claim since it is simply untrue for most freelancers in the creative industry sector. You probably don’t need proof, but, if you do (or want to know that you are not alone) you could check out the posts on I Lost My Gig Canada’s  Facebook page where an almost palpable sense of desperation lurks below some of the comments. There is also a report on the results of a survey conducted by Hill Research and sponsored by ILMG assessing the Impact of COVID-19 which on musicians and other cultural sector workers.

While a new “targeted” program called the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit /Prestation canadienne pour les travailleurs en cas de confinement is being proposed by the Federal government (with a payment rate of $300/week under certain conditions), the details of how this will include so-called “gig workers” is not yet clear. Also of concern is the fact that any proposed new benefit program – including this one – will  have to be passed by the House of Commons and the Senate before it can become law and be enacted. This creates a worrisome delay since Parliament is not scheduled to sit until later this month.

Creative Industry Coalition’s Response to announced Federal Government benefit changes

The Canadian Federation of Musicians is part of a group of unions from the entertainment industry, including IASTE, Equity and the Associated Designers of Canada. From the outset of the pandemic, this group has presented a strong, united voice and was extremely influential when it came to ensuring that arts and cultural workers would be eligible for support from both CERB/CRB.

The following letter was written 5 days after the news conference and press release of October 21/21. It raises several issues of concern and I am confident that the letter is being followed up to ensure that the best interests of arts and culture workers are considered in the new and recent pandemic support programs that the Federal government has launched or plans to launch.

It is a fairly fast read, and I would suggest that if you would like to see your union in action, you follow this link:

2021.10.26 Creative Industries Coalition to Minister Rodriguez – CRB Termination Live Industry Income Support.pdf (

Other resources on this topic: HUGE Benefit News | CRB Cancelled, New CWLB, CRCB Extended – YouTube

Local 190 Update

Appointments at the office continue to be required as staff are generally working from home.

The upcoming Local 190 presidential election will take place on Saturday December 11/21 and is currently planned to accommodate in-person voting, with COVID protocols such as masking and physical distancing being strictly observed. The threat of further lockdowns in our province is being carefully monitored. Advance voting by mail will be an option should you wish to avail yourself of that. Should your ability to use stairs be limited please contact the office as soon as possible and an advance voting ballot will be forwarded to you.

A Notice of Election will be arriving shortly with all the relevant details, including specific times for in-person advance ballot drop-off. Please read it carefully upon receipt.


Over the past..20…well actually, it feels like forever…months, I have included extensive lists of resources of a variety of types. Many past COVID updates have been uploaded to the President’s Blog on the MPM website, should you wish to scroll through some of them. You can find out about ways to live frugally, how to stay mentally and physically healthy and explore other resources that are there for you to access.

Unison Benevolent Fund:

From the website: Unison Benevolent Fund is a non-profit, registered music industry charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. We are here to help professional music makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties.

I mentioned in the Spring that Unison Benevolent Fund was able to offer $1000 grants to help ease some of the financial hardship being experienced by artists as a result of the pandemic. The registration process is not onerous and, at the time I wrote about them, Unison stated clearly that the pandemic situation counted as a legitimate reason to claim financial hardship. Funds are available on a first come first serve basis so I do not know whether there is still money available. What I do know is it does not hurt to inquire. At all.

Alternatively, if you are a musician/someone who has managed to weather this storm and would like to donate to help others, the Fund happily takes donations from individuals as well as  organizations.

That’s all for this time.

Please take care and feel free to contact the office should you need assistance.

President Finlay