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.
Health and safety guidelines
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.
Reopened as of 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. A more detailed document, the BC Motion Picture Industry COVID-19 Pandemic Production Guide, was released on August 1o. The creation of this document, which can be downloaded below, was led by a Coalition subcommittee co-chaired by CMPA-BC Branch and supported by the Actsafe Safety Association.
Reopened as of June 12, 2020.
The Government of Alberta has released high-level COVID-19 health and safety guidance for the screen-based industry:
Reopened as June 1, 2020. From November 12, 2020, to February 11, 2021 only projects that were currently in production on November 12 were allowed to continue. This restriction was listed effective February 12, provided that productions comply with the province’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
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:
Reopened as of June 12, 2020. New temporary restrictions were announced on April 1, 2021. Click here for more information.
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, 2020, which were then amended on November 24, 2020, and January 25, 2021. To assist producers in implementing this guidance, the CMPA has also developed a series of checklists and template policies and protocols, which can be downloaded here (updated February 4, 2021).
Reopened as June 8, 2020. Production is still permitted amid the new restrictions that took effect on January 9, 2021. In order to facilitate the travel of cast and crew between curfew hours, producers are invited to use this form, prepared by the AQPM. The form serves as an attestation from the producer that the named individual provides services to a company authorized to operate during the curfew period, and that their work necessitates travel between their residence and workplace.
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).
Open (the industry was never officially ordered to shut down).
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) supplier directories
Below is a list of various provincial and municipal PPE supplier directories. This list is provided for informational purposes only. The CMPA has not reviewed these directories nor has it vetted or does it endorse the companies or services listed within. Companies and individuals remain solely responsible for their selection and use of service providers. The CMPA makes no representations or warranties and disclaims all liability in relation to your use of any of the services that may be offered through these directories.
Provincial PPE directories:
Government of Ontario Workplace PPE Supplier Directory
Creative BC COVID-19 Resource Index
Small Business BC – Find PPE for your business
Safety Alliance BC – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Nova Scotia Workplace PPE Supplier Directory
Government of Alberta – PPE
Municipal PPE directories:
Employer responsibilities for COVID-19 testing
The CMPA has received inquiries as to the ability to require COVID-19 testing of cast and crew under our agreements with the unions and guilds. The CMPA’s position is that, if a production wishes to employ testing, then provided a testing program is reasonable and undertaken in compliance with provincial human rights and privacy obligations, it constitutes a valid exercise of management rights to apply it. We strongly encourage members to work with their external legal counsel to ensure a production’s specific testing plan accords with their legal and contractual obligations. As a matter of good labour relations, we also encourage members to provide an explanation of production’s testing plan and rationale to cast and crew and the affected unions and guilds so that they can understand and ask questions about it.
Additionally, some members have reached out to ask whether the Government of Ontario has provided guidance concerning its position on employer testing of asymptomatic individuals. We appreciate that the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance does not answer many of our members’ questions regarding the requirements or limitations of implementing worker testing.
The CMPA is currently working with other industry stakeholders to gain further information as soon as possible from the provincial government regarding access to accredited laboratories for private-sector testing and guidelines/legal obligations or limitations for private-sector testing, mobile test site requirements, as well as other questions that may be relevant to our members. We will provide this information, and any information regarding testing in other provinces, once available.
On September 24, the Government of Ontario announced updates to its COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance. The updated guidance can be found here. The government specified in its news release that, effective immediately, Ontarians should only seek testing at assessment centres if they are:
– Showing COVID-19 symptoms
– Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app
– A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit
– Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care
These updates do not address private COVID-19 testing. The Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Tourism and Culture Industries previously issued a guidance letter regarding accessing private COVID-19 testing for film and television production. Producers that wish to arrange for such private testing can contact CMPA National Industrial Relations staff for information regarding authorized private laboratories.
In British Columbia, the BC Provincial Health Officer previously issued guidance for businesses seeking to conduct private testing of asymptomatic individuals, which can be found here.
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.
healthQ Canadian Production Industry Health Screening Tool
The CMPA is proud to announce the launch of the healthQ Canadian Production Industry Health Screening Tool.
We understand that CMPA members are hard at work developing rigorous health and safety policies and practices to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 within their workplaces, and healthQ has been developed to help producers carry out health screenings for cast, crew and other production personnel.
This tool is available for producers on a subscription basis from software developer Macadamian Technologies, and can be provided for use by all individuals working on production projects. For more information on the CMPA’s development of this tool, click here.
Should you have any questions regarding health and safety, please contact:
COVID-19 insurance coverage
On October 28, 2020, Telefilm Canada released the guidelines of the new Short-Term Compensation Fund for Canadian Audiovisual Productions, which was first announced in late-September. This program serves as a temporary measure for the purpose of minimizing the consequences of the lack of insurance coverage for interruptions in filming and abandonment of Canadian screen-based productions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On February 10, 2021, at the closing reception for the CMPA’s Prime Time conference, Minsiter Steven Guilbeault announced that the STCF would be extended until March 31, 2022. In addition, the government has doubled the capacity of the program up to $100 million. Our understanding is that there will not be significant changes to coverage or program guidelines, and that capacity for the program will not increase until April 1, 2021. Ongoing covered productions whose coverage is terminating on March 31, 2021, under current agreements will need to reapply to extend their coverage. Applications for coverage commencing April 1, 2021, will open on March 4, 2021, and will be prioritized by the commencement of principal photography. Guidelines and application details can be found here.
Some key highlights from the guidlines include:
– The program will be open from October 30, 2020, to March 31, 2022
– Producers must apply at least five days prior to the commencement of principal photography
– Applicants must be Canadian companies applying with CPTC-eligible projects
– This program will cover eligible production costs of 20 per cent of the approved production budget up to $1.5 million for production interruption, or up to $3 million for abandonment caused by an eligible COVID-19 confirmed case resulting in a minimum of a one-day shutdown of principal photography prior to March 31, 2021
– There is no premium or upfront fee
– There is a 15 per cent deductible of eligible costs of the claim
Applications will be evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis with priority placed on projects by the date of commencement of principal photography.
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.
If you have other insurance-related questions, please contact:
Senior Director, Business Affairs
Director, BC Industrial Relations
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 developed by the CMPA and the industry at large.
Mandatory negative COVID-19 test
Starting February 22, the Government of Canada will be implementing more stringent testing and quarantine requirements for international travelers arriving to Canada’s air and land ports of entry. Travelers arriving to Canada by land will be required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine. As of February 15, they are also required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test results taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival.
International travel by air is now restricted to only four airports (Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver), and there will be mandatory COVID-19 testing for all international arrivals through these airports with travelers awaiting the results of their tests at a government-approved hotel for up to three days at their own expense. It was announced today that travelers will be able to book their government-authorized stay starting February 18, 2021. These new measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travelers.
Essential workers, individuals traveling for an essential purpose and cross-border communities will be exempt from these measures. The government will also consider case-by-case exemptions. Details about the new measures are available here on the Public Health Agency of Canada website. We are sourcing additional details about the new measures as they pertain to the screen-based production sector and will inform members of any implications.
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 has worked 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.
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