On August 28 2003 members of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) voted in favour of a new independent production agreement. The agreement was negotiated with the Canadian Film and Television Production Association and the Association des Producteurs de Film et de Télévision de Québec. The agreement governs the terms and conditions of employment of ACTRA members with respect to independent film and television throughout Canada, except for British Columbia which has a separate collective agreement.

The settlement was ratified by the Canadian Film and Television Production Association board of ACTRA members on June 8 2003, well in advance of the expiration of the current agreement in December 2003. The new agreement has a three-year term which begins on January 1 2004 and expires on December 31 2006. The timely acceptance of the new agreement sends a message to producers in Canada and abroad that Canada is a stable production environment.

The highlights of the agreement are as follows:

  • It provides for a general increase in minimum fees and rates for ACTRA members of 1% on January 1 2004, 1.5% on January 1 2005 and 2% on January 1 2006.
  • Minimum hourly rates for additional background performers are set at C$9 per hour for the first two years of the term of the agreement and $9.25 for the third year.
  • The budget for the Canadian Independent Production Incentive Programme is increased.
  • Insurance benefit contributions for ACTRA members are increased from 4% to 5%.
  • Producers' insurance contributions to non-ACTRA members are increased from 10% to 11% of gross fees paid.
  • Producers' contributions to retirement caps are increased by 32% over the term of the agreement.
  • The number of background performers in Toronto is increased from 25 to 30 for productions other than television series.
  • For television series, producers may either (i) engage 30 ACTRA background performers who will be paid a daily rate regardless of the number of episodes shot in a day, or (ii) maintain current compensation practice using 25 background performers.
  • A committee is established to investigate and make recommendations regarding all aspects of the casting process.
  • A security requirement is introduced for producers who are not members of a producer's association.
  • A committee is introduced to analyze issues relating to documentaries and fact-based and lifestyle productions such as cooking, home improvement and/or travel programmes.

New, live-action television series and pilots are exempt from ACTRA administration and work permit fees, and may maintain the status quo for ACTRA background performers for the first two seasons of the series.

For further information on this topic please contact David Zitzerman at Goodmans LLP by telephone (+1 416 979 2211) or by fax (+1 416 979 1234) or by email ([email protected]). The Goodmans LLP website can be accessed at www.goodmans.ca.