ACTRA Toronto

ACTRA Toronto

April 24, 2009 11:55 ET

ACTRA Toronto Applauds as Artists' Rights Bill Moves Forward

Bill would amend Employment Standards Act to include artists

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 24, 2009) -

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A private member's bill to amend the Employment Standards Act to include artists, while protecting their status as independent contractors, has survived its second reading in Ontario's legislature. Bill 165, introduced by NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Peter Tabuns, would see artists obtain basic protections and benefits enjoyed by other workers in Ontario.

"The Employment Standards Act needs to be modernized to reflect the reality of today's workforce. Workers like artists should not be excluded from the benefits and protections of the Act just because they are independent contractors," stated ACTRA Toronto President Heather Allin.

Artists' work contributes billions of dollars to Ontario's economy, yet their average income is well below that of other Ontario workers. Moreover, because of the nature of their work environment, artists lack the protections the law provides for other workers. ACTRA is calling on the government to recognize artists under the Act while maintaining their independent contractor status.

"Support for Bill 165 is a positive first step. But it's time for the Ontario government to fulfill the recommendations of its own report on the Status of the Artist," said Allin. "We ask that Premier McGuinty and the Minister of Labour meet with us and start making real progress on these recommendations."

Canadian stars Wendy Crewson, Art Hindle, Peter Keleghan, Mayko Nguyen and Gordon Pinsent were at Queen's Park earlier this week to lobby for changes recommended in the government's Status of the Artist report, released in 2006. The performers spoke passionately in favour of a fair collective bargaining structure and legislated protection for child performers, as well as changes to the Employment Standards Act.

"Artists are the creative workers vital to Ontario's economic and social wellbeing," Allin added. "It is time for the government to put its words into action and start supporting artists by providing the tools that will allow us to make a decent living."

ACTRA Toronto is the largest organization within ACTRA, representing over 15,000 professional film, television and new media performers working in Canada's English-language recorded media. An advocate for Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven organization that continues to secure the rights and respect for the work of professional performers.

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