Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), the national association for professional visual artists, calls upon the Federal Government to review and remove barriers to artists who require access to key Emergency Relief programs that have recently been created during this unprecedented time of need.
Firstly, we are truly grateful that the Federal Government has made EI available to independent artists and other cultural workers, many of whom work in the gig economy. According to Hill Strategies: 66% of visual artists are self-employed, the highest percentage among all artistic disciplines, and much higher than the proportions of all artists (52%) and all workers (12%).
The provision of a social safety net is, therefore, very important to visual artists. However, in the current guidelines for eligibility to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), two restrictions to eligibility are causing great concern for artists, and other freelance/gig economy workers from the cultural sector and beyond:
- The expectation to be without any employment or self-employment for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period, and
- The expectation of at least $5000 income in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of application.