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    Music Ontario: COVID-19 Information & Resources for Ontario’s Music Industry
    Music Ontario: COVID-19 Information & Resources for Ontario’s Music Industry

    25 Mar 2020

    COVID-19 Information & Resources for Ontario’s Music Industry

    UPDATED: March 25, 2020

    • Government introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to help workers and businesses – official March 25, 2020 press release here. From the release:

      No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.

      To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

      The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

      Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.

      The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

      Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

      The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

      Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

      This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty. Again, the official March 25, 2020 press release can be found here.

    • Unison Benevolent Fund has announced its COVID-19 Relief Program, with an initial donation of $250,000 from the Slaight Family Foundation, matched by the Unison office, offering $500,000 to provide assistance to Canada’s music community. Read the full press release here.
    • On March 26 at 10:30am, join Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries for a conference call to discuss the government’s response to COVID-19, featuring guest speakers Beth Potter (President and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario), Jim Mirkopoulos (Vice President, Cinespace Film Studios), Josh Basseches (Director and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Ontario Museum), David Shoemaker (CEO and Secretary General, Canadian Olympic Committee), and Moderated by Tim Hudak (Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Real Estate Association). Please note the close economic relationship between Ontario’s cultural industries going into this discussion.

      If you wish to join this tele-town hall, you must register here, after which you will receive dial-in instructions via email.

    • Connect Music Licensing and Connect Music Licensing are conducting the COVID-19 Music Artist Impact Survey: At the heart of the Canadian music industry are our artists, who are the most vulnerable and will feel the largest impact in light of recent events. We want to understand and capture artists’ experience and convey their stories to all levels of government.

      Please fill this out by March 27, 2020 if you are an artist working in the capacities of recording live performance, artist entrepreneur, songwriter/publisher, etc.

    • Free webinar from BandzoogleHow musicians can survive and strive with live streaming. March 26, 2020 @ 1:00PM CST.



    Canada’s Federal Government has released details about its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, providing up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus an additional $55 billion to support Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals.

    The government has also announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 in a variety of ways, and who might not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

    Measures for businesses announced include:

    • Essentially eliminating the payroll tax for three months by providing a 10% wage subsidy to small businesses – this will keep people employed. More details here.
    • Helping businesses with cash flow by deferring tax payments until August 31st;
    • Introducing a new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks for self-employed people who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.
    • Applications will open in April through your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) “My Account portal, your My Service Canada account, and a TBA toll free number equipped with an automated application process.

    WHERE TO START for Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs:

    • Visit Canada’s website for businesses for information about supporting your employees and your business. It will be constantly updated as the COVID-19 crisis evolves.
    • Download the Canada Business App to find tailored supports to address your specific needs and questions about COVID-19.
    • Consult the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s pandemic preparedness guide to help prepare your business in the days and weeks to come.
    • Contact your bank. Canada’s banks have made a commitment to support businesses and individuals through these difficult times in a responsible, fair, and compassionate way. To help provide some stability for businesses through this time of uncertainty, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer requirement, releasing more than $300 billion of additional lending capacity for Canadian financial institutions.
    • The Department of Finance Canada has a thorough resource here outlining how the government is taking action to help Canadians experiencing hardship, including detail about flexibility for taxpayers.
    • For individuals, make sure you can access either your CRA MyAccount or My Service Canada Account to apply for EI relief funds before the applications open in April 2020. Better to sort that out now if you’re unsure of your login information!

    Read the full news release from the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, outlining Canada’s $82 billion support and relief plan for Canadians.

    MusicOntario will continue to update you as new and/or pertinent information becomes available.

    Original statement from MusicOntario regarding COVID-19 on March 16, 2020:

    As the music community comes together during the novel COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to keep you informed of developments as they roll out.

    Ontario has declared a state of emergency, and we understand the severe implications for our members and stakeholders, with small businesses and venues closing, tours cancelling, and the gig economy in which so many of us thrive in limbo.

    Artists, performers, and musicians are without income, and the entrepreneurs and companies that work to promote, support, and elevate Canadian music are all seeing their livelihoods in jeopardy. Please review the information below in case it may be of assistance.

    We are staying abreast of the situation as it pertains to the music industry in Ontario, and implore everyone to stay as safe as possible through this stressful and uncertain time.

    Please note that the MusicOntario office is closed, and we will be working remotely until the proper health officials advise that it is wise to return. We are working to understand what that means for upcoming programs and events, and we will keep you posted via our various social platforms.


    • Airline Cancellation Policies: A comprehensive guide by Forbes can be found here.
    • Bandzoogle has put together this handy blog: How musicians can ask fans for support during the coronavirus pandemic.
    • Canada‘s official response to COVID-19 can be found here, with frequent live updates.
    • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
    • Canada Council for the Arts: Information about CCA’s cancellation policy can be found here.
    • Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA)‘s list of COVID-19 resources for Canada’s indie sector can be found here.
    • Canadian Live Music Association‘s Request for relief to the Canadian government can be found here.
    • Canada Public Health has info about the situation available here.
    • CAPACOA is asking you to track cancellations affecting the Canadian live performance sector here.
    • The Department of Finance Canada has a thorough resource here outlining how the governement is taking action to help Canadians experiencing hardship, including detail about flexibility for taxpayers.
    • FACTOR: Information about FACTOR’s cancellatoin policy can be found here.
    • I Lost My Gig is a support group on Facebook for folks from various disciplines in the Gig Economy to gather, listen, and share.
    • Music Managers Forum Canada has an incredibly thorough resource page that is being constantly updated here.
    • MusicOntario (it’s us!) will be reposting all sorts of things on our socials/to our stories – have a peek there for various updates, interesting content from the community, streaming events, and other tidbits to help pass the time.
    • The National Arts Centre and Facebook Canada have teamed up to launch #CanadaPerforms streaming concerts. Canadian performing artists (including musicians, comedians, dancers, singers, theatre artists, and ensembles of less than 10 people) can apply by email to the NAC at Performers are asked to send their names, a description of a 45- to 60-minute livestream performance they will give, their chosen date between Thursday and March 31, 2020, and what streaming platform they will use.

      Performers will receive a $1,000 grant, with NAC staffers and industry leaders to select the fund recipients. Some artists will also have their performances shared by the NAC through its Facebook page as part of #CanadaPerforms.

    • Ontario Arts Council‘s policies on COVID-19 can be found here.
    • Ontario Ministry of Health resource page.
    • Ontario Presents is offering to host online of phone-based meetings free of charge for any Ontario-based artist, agent, presenter, or other art presenting industry professional who needs to host a meeting but does not have the means to do so. You may contact They also have a page of resources for arts presenters here, and a document outlining Coronavirus Response for the Live Performance Sector here.
    • Radio Starmaker: The Board of the Radio Starmaker Fund wants to inform all stakeholders that any previous tour dates that were approved and were to take place between February 15th and August 31st of this year will be fully funded if they were canceled as a result of the coronavirus. All you will need to do when filling out final paperwork is indicate the reason for the cancellation was coronavirus – no other proof will be necessary. This same policy will also be in effect with regard to tour dates approved by the Board for Round 74. We are currently examining the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the implications it may have on future touring. Currently, when we open our next round we are considering a moratorium on requests for tour funding for all performances from April 1st to May 31st of this year given the very high likelihood of cancellation. We will be monitoring this situation over the next few weeks and making a final determination on or before April 10th when we plan to open the next round of funding. In the meantime, we wanted everyone to know this is a possibility as tour plans are made this year.
    • Toronto Musicians Association has information and resources for financial assistance and bill payment relief here.
    • Unison Benevolent Fund has information about how they can help here, or you can call 1-855-986-4766 for inquiries to help you deal with the financial or emotional impact of coronavirus.
    • Unison also has a great list of national and provincial financial resources here.
    • Worldwide Independent Network has a list of resources for the indie music community across the work here.
    • World Health Organization
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