It has been an honour and an incredible four months so far — taking on the vast responsibility of representing 27,000-plus ACTRA members across Canada. As we continue to navigate our way through ever-changing COVID-19 protocols to keep our industry open, ongoing negotiations of our collective agreements as well as the day-to-day operations of our union, I would like to acknowledge our dedicated staff both at the National and Branch level. It gives me great pride to work alongside them to achieve our common goals. As well, I am inspired by the scope of talent of our membership and what we stand for, and I want the world to know!
One way we will achieve our goals is through our ACTRA Member Census. I am proud our union has conducted our first-ever nationwide anonymous Census. The information we gather through the Census will have an enormous impact on the strategic decisions made by our union for years to come. It will help us improve the working lives of Canadian performers. And it will influence ACTRA’s collective bargaining objectives, public policy work, diversity and inclusion efforts, and help our union deliver better services to all of us. I thank all Members who participated in such an important initiative and especially the members of ACTRA’s National Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee for their time and input in shaping the Census.
Soon after the completion of the Census, our federal government held a snap election that resulted in… well, not much of a difference. However, ACTRA will continue to work diligently and will hold the Liberal Party of Canada to account in meeting their election commitments to our industry. We hope our elected representatives will put their differences aside and work together to create real change for Canadians. Directly from the Liberal’s platform, ACTRA’s top priority will be, “within the first 100 days, reintroduce legislation to reform the Broadcasting Act to ensure foreign web giants contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music.” Legislation requiring foreign web giants, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, to contribute to the creation of Canadian content will help strengthen our domestic production industry and generate more jobs for Canadian creators.
On October 14, I was thrilled to attend an amazing virtual celebration hosted by ACTRA National for Andrea Menard, ACTRA’s 2021 Woman of the Year. Andrea invited very inspiring panelists who shared stories about their successes and struggles. Please take the time to watch this amazing discussion. Congratulations again to Andrea Menard for this recognition.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge our Past President, David Sparrow.
David accomplished an enormous amount for our membership under extraordinary circumstances in the four years he served as National President of ACTRA. We wouldn’t be where we are today without David’s fierce dedication and leadership. Here are just some of the highlights of his work.
Pre-COVID, David committed much of his time travelling the country to mark and celebrate ACTRA’s 75th anniversary, attending awards, galas and AGMs to speak about the importance of solidarity and our union.
David successfully led negotiations for the last National Commercial Agreement (NCA), Independent Production Agreement (IPA), Ubisoft and Game On collective agreements. He made recommendations to the federal government to strengthen the cultural exemption in the Canada-USA-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA, replacing NAFTA) in terms of protecting Canadian culture and our cultural industries. He worked on, lobbied for and promoted Bill C-10 (An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act) to Keep Canada on our Screens. David launched ACTRA’s first fully digital edition of ACTRA Magazine as well as ACTRA’s refreshed National, ACTRA Performers’ Rights Society (PRS) and Branch websites. He also successfully worked with ACTRA’s National Constitution Committee to improve our union’s National governance structure.
David vigorously fought for change related to #MeToo and Black Lives Matter issues and movements that resulted in the creation of an industry-wide Code of Conduct that now has over 100 signatories — and counting — committed to preventing and responding to workplace harassment and discrimination in all its forms. He collaborated with the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) in jointly launching the bilingual HAVEN Helpline and advocated for it to include anti-racism support – HAVEN: Harassment, Anti-racism and Violence Emergency Network, available 24/7 to members.
And when the unimaginable happened, a global pandemic that shut down the world, David immediately took action to manage COVID-19’s insidious attack and crisis on our union and industry, collaborating with our sibling unions and other self-employed artists to be included in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and pushed hard against the CERB clawback and won! As a result, performers across this country have been eligible to apply for and receive financial support to help them keep food on the table and a roof over their head.
And if these accomplishments weren’t enough, David was key in hiring Marie Kelly, ACTRA’s National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, ensuring a smooth and seamless transition of National leadership.
On behalf of ACTRA Members from coast-to-coast-to-coast, I would like to thank David Sparrow for his hard work and dedication. We are a stronger union because of him.
We are early in a new century, a new decade, and a new era, adding new members, new staff, and new leadership. Together, we are growing and strengthening our union. These are exciting times!
For updates on ongoing and upcoming negotiations of our collective agreements, I encourage you to read Marie Kelly’s NED article, Bargaining in Focus.
ACTRA National President