In regions across Canada, significant efforts are being undertaken by both industry and government to reopen the screen-based production sector. Here’s the latest information you need to know about that progress, and work that still remains to be done to get the cameras rolling.
Provincial health and safety guidelines and reopening dates
A key element in the reopening process for productions across Canada is the establishment of COVID-19 health and safety policies and procedures for the production sector.
The CMPA has helped to coordinate various industry groups across Canada to work within their jurisdictions to develop industry-specific health and safety guidelines to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. In each province or territory, the governmental labour authority must have approved and published new guidelines in order for production to actually resume.
Below is a list of provinces where provincial authorities have allowed that film and television production activities to resume, as well as information on the development of industry-specific COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Employers must develop their own production-specific COVID-19 safety plans that outline the policies, guidelines, and procedures in compliance with their province’s COVID-19 guidance.
We will update the list below as announcements in other provinces and territories are made.
Reopening date: June 5, 2020
On June 24, Creative BC released a statement announcing the publication of new safety guidelines created by the BC Motion Picture Industry COVID-19 Best Practices Coalition, on which CMPA-BC participates, and modeled on the previously released WorkSafeBC protocols. The coalition continues to focus on workforce health and safety by developing additional resources for employers. A subcommittee, co-chaired by CMPA-BC Branch and supported by the Actsafe Safety Association, is leading department level consultations to inform the detailed guidance in the Pandemic Production Guide, coming soon.
Reopening date: June 12, 2020
The Government of Alberta has released high-level COVID-19 health and safety guidance for the screen-based industry:
Reopening date: June 1, 2020
Health and safety guidelines have been approved and published by the Government of Manitoba. They are available here (scroll down to Film Production effective June 1). On Screen Manitoba has also developed more detailed guidelines that complement the provincial government guidance:
Reopening date: June 12, 2020
The CMPA, through its participation on the province’s Section 21 Committee, developed a set of health and guidelines for all productions filming in the province, which were approved by the Government on Ontario on June 25. To assist producers in implementing this guidance, the CMPA has developed a series of checklists and template policies and protocols, which can be downloaded here.
Reopening date: June 8, 2020
The Government of Quebec has approved and released high-level health and safety guidelines for the production sector. To complement this guide, the Association québécoise de la production médiatique (AQPM) has developed a toolkit for producers consisting of four additional documents: a list of considerations for prep, a daily checklist, an appendix to employment contracts and a “stable team” registry. More details and links to all of these documents can be found here (French only).
Reopening date: N/A (the industry was never officially ordered to close)
Health and safety guidelines, prepared by Screen Nova Scotia, have been approved by the Government of Nova Scotia.
Screen Nova Scotia is currently in the process of drafting a detailed set of suggested practices for specific departments. These supplemental guidelines will act as a complement to this guidance document and will be added as appendices.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers
The Government of Ontario has launched a directory of nearly 500 Canadian suppliers that sell personal protective equipment for workplaces. The database can be used to find masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizing equipment, and more. The directory can be accessed here:
Employer responsibilities for COVID-19 testing
The question of employer responsibilities, as it relates to testing workers for COVID-19, has been raised in a number of jurisdictions as production begins to reopen across Canada. In British Columbia, the Provincial Health Officer, Bonnie Henry, has issued public health guidance on this issue, which may be of relevance to BC producers as they develop company-specific plans to reopen operations. In the letter, Henry notes that private testing is not recommended in BC, and states that the BC government discourages employers from conducting private testing on asymptomatic employees.
As provinces and territories continue to develop their public health guidance, the CMPA will monitor recommendations as they relate to private sector testing. We will update this page as more information becomes available.
Implementation costs for COVID-19 health and safety measures
In recent meetings with government officials, we have raised the issue of increased health and safety costs, resulting from the implementation of new protocols to protect cast and crew, and guard against the spread of COVID-19. We have communicated to government the challenges producers are facing in trying to identify sources of financing to address these unbudgeted costs. We are asking the federal government to invest in immediate health and safety funding to offset these increased costs.
Should you have any questions regarding health and safety, please contact:
COVID-19 insurance coverage
The CMPA is acutely aware that insurance companies are not offering COVID-19 coverage for the production sector at this time.
Following significant efforts over past weeks to develop a market based solution to the challenge, the private sector remains unable to offer COVID-19 insurance coverage, even with the guarantee of a substantial government backstop fund. We have subsequently developed a new proposal, which asks the federal government to develop an indemnification fund that producers could buy into, which would cover COVID-19 costs, and is similar to programs recently launched in France and Belgium.
In recent days we have had meetings with senior government officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, Office of the Government House Leader, Finance, and Heritage to discuss this proposal.
Below is a series of FAQs we have developed, with the latest information available on the insurance issue. We will update this information as new details become available.
It is likely that production insurance rates will increase in the future. Consult your broker to understand the impact on insurance costs for your production.
Insurers are adding COVID-19 or “communicable disease” exclusions to new production policies, which means that future claims related to COVID-19 will not be covered by new policies. Your broker will be able to advise you about the different types of exclusions that might apply to your production and discuss the risks that your production might face going forward.
There are no barriers to obtaining an insurance policy for your production as you normally would. Once productions are permitted to re-start, your insurance policy should cover your production with respect to all normal risks other than COVID-19 and/or communicable disease.
The lack of insurance for COVID-19 puts the risk associated with subsequent production delays or shutdowns onto producers. This will have an impact on financing contracts, bank loans, and completion bonds. These arrangements may become more challenging as financing partners become increasingly risk-averse.
Having a plan to manage the uninsured risk of future COVID-19-related shutdowns will be a critical part of production in the near term. Producers should expect to take additional measures to assure financing partners that the risk is being managed as effectively as possible. Here are some recommendations to position you to speak with your financing partners about risk management:
– Consult your bank or completion bonder about risk management measures that can be taken to help offset the insurance risk.
– Consider setting additional contingency and/or interest reserves to account for subsequent shutdowns.
– Develop written health and safety protocols to minimize the risk of infection or exposure to your staff, cast and crew. Industry protocols are being developed now and will be released in the near future.
– Put practices in place to ensure that you follow all health orders in the jurisdictions in which you plan to film.
– Develop a plan for how you will manage any subsequent production delays or shut-down orders.
– Consider whether you can build additional flexibility into your contracts with buyers, locations, facilities, equipment and cast and crew to account for potential disruptions in the production schedule.
– Pay close attention to force majeure clauses in all agreements and look at whether they provide you with the necessary flexibility on the agreement terms and delivery dates.
Developing a set of health and safety practices and policies are a critical element of any risk management strategy for producers; provincial regulations, in fact, require employers to maintain health and safety programs. COVID-19 Industry Best Practices are being developed in British Columbia and Ontario cooperatively by the CMPA, US studios, unions and guilds, film associations and other industry stakeholders. These guidelines will be released in the near future. We recommend that producers use these guidelines as a starting point for developing detailed protocols that are specific to your own operations and productions.
With or without individual company protocols, all employers are obligated to follow all relevant health orders, and we strongly encourage producers to follow all health and safety recommendations from the provincial and federal authorities, workers compensation boards, and industry safety associations.
If you have other insurance-related questions, please contact:
Vice-President, BC Industrial Relations
Senior Director, Business Affairs
Director, BC Industrial Relations
Denial at points of entry
Canada Border Services Agency policy clearly states that foreign workers with a valid work permit are allowed to cross the border into Canada for work in any province where that provincial government has allowed the sector in which the individual is employed to re-open. This includes the screen-based production sector.
There have been reports from producers that this policy is being applied inconsistently, where some Canada Border Services Agency officers have denied entry to production industry workers who should be allowed to enter the country. The CMPA is currently working with other industry stakeholders to ensure that the CBSA clearly communicate its guidelines to border agents so that they are applied consistently across the country.
The CMPA recommends that production companies looking to bring in foreign workers contact an immigration lawyer who can provide them with advice tailored to their unique circumstances.
Upon entering Canada, the federal government requires that all foreign workers self-quarantine for a period of 14 days before beginning work. The CMPA supports this requirement. The 14-day quarantine requirement, in fact, aligns with health and safety guidelines currently being developed by the CMPA and the industry at large.
Should you have any questions related to foreign workers and immigration issues, please contact:
Vice-President, Corporate & International Affairs
General Counsel and Vice-President, National Industrial Relations