COVID-19 Resources For Artists

Last updated: May 19, 2020, 3:20pm

This document was designed to provide factual information and updates on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting the opera sector and for updates on resources for artists and community members. This document should not be a substitute for official information from public health authorities. Any questions, feedback, updates, or additional information can be sent through this form.

For the most up-to-date and authoritative information regarding COVID-19 in Canada, please consult the website of the Public Health Agency of Canada.


  1. Health and Governmen Information
  2. Canada’s COVID-19 Response Plan For Individuals
  3. Canada’s COVID-19 Response Plan For Businesses
  4. Government Emergency Relief Fund Information
  5. Government and Provincial Websites and Information
  6. Rent and Subsidy Programs
  7. Emergency Travel Funding
  8. Associations, Relief Funds, and Resources
  9. Health & Mental Health Resources
  10. Performance and Gather Restrictions
  11. Advocacy Groups
  12. About This Resource
  13. Additional Resources

Health and Government Information

Update May 19

27 Billion Aid Package for supporting individuals

55 billion in tax deferral and support for businesses

Tax payment deadlines postponed until August 31, 2020

Canada’s COVID-19 Response Plan For Individuals

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

New CERB eligibility rules:

  • On April 15th Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that CERB will become available to Canadians who have exhausted their employment insurence (I) benefits since January 1st, season workers who can’t find work because of COVID-19, and those we earn up to $1,000 a month.


  • Applications are open now, click here to apply
  • Applications must be 15 years old or more, have stopped working for 14 consecutive days, have earned $5000 income in the last 12 months. You must re-apply every 4 weeks
  • CERB is paid via direct deposit or via cheque. You should receive payment within 3 business days with direct deposit, and 10 business days via mail

When To Apply

  • Mondays – If you wer born in January, February, or March
  • Tuesdays – If you were born in April, May, or June
  • Wednesdays – If youwere born in July, August, or September
  • Thursdays – If you were born in October, November or December
  • Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays – Any month

More Information

  • Workers with lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for $2,000 a month for the next four months to help pay rent and groceries
  • This fund is for unemployed Canadians who do not qualify for EI and will be a simpler and more accessible platform. This will cover Canadians who have lost jobs, are sick, quarantined, taking care of someone sick with COVID-19, or working parents without pay as a result of needing to care for children. Workers who are still employed but are not receiving income will also qualify
  • CERB will be paid every four weeks and available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020

Toronto Information for freelance workers not eligible for Employment Insurance

**Freelance workers who are not eligible for EI – “Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.
  • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
  • Applying will require a “simple attestation” as opposed to medical documentation. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:
    – by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
    – by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
    – by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.”
  • Emergency care benefit for workers (employees) not covered by EI – 14 weeks amount comparable to what would be paid through EI, paid every 2-weeks
  • COVID-19 “emergency support benefit” – self employed workers (most likely to impact freelance artists) – this will likely take at least two weeks, as this requires House of Commons approval
  • 10% wage subsidy to employers for the next few months to help with maintaining payroll
  • Families with young kids – boost to the Canada Child Benefit in the next few months
  • For those who qualify as lower income – boost GST credit in May – up to $300 up to $100 per child
  • Paying student loans – 6-month moratorium on paying
  • Businesses – The Canada Account – more to come in the following days including specific sectors (no news on what could support performing arts organizations yet)
  • More information available here
Long-Term Incoming Support for Workers
  • For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours
  • This program will extend the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, ease the application process, and ease the eligibility requirements
Low-Modest Income Families
  • The Government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples
  • Proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts only for the 2019-20 beneift year by $300 per child
Additional Information
  • Flexibility for Tax Payers – The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) will defer the filing due date to June 1, 2020, however the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under GSTC or the Canadian Child Benefit not to delay the filing to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 year. The CRA will allow taxpayers to defer payment until after August 31, 2020
  • Mortgage Default Management Tools – The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers are offering tools such as payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements

Canada’s COVID-19 Response Plan For Businesses

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
  • CEWS covers 75% of an employee’s wage – up to $847 per week – for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a drop in gross revenues
  • Available for businesses who have suffered at least a 30% decline in revenue, with the goal of allowing people to keep their jobs and paycheques
  • The program will take place from March 15 to Jun 6, 2020
  • More information can be found here
Extending the Work-Sharing Program
  • The Work-Sharing program is for workers with reduced normal workhing hours
  • The maximum duration for the Work-Sharing program has been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks
  • Information on how to apply can be found here
Canada Summer Jobs Program
  • The Canada Summer Jobs program provides opportunities for youth to develop and improve their skills within the not-for-profit, small business, and public sectors, and supports the delivery of key community services
  • Changes have been made to the program due to the COVID-19 including an increase in wage subsidy to receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee, extending the end date for employment to February 28, 2021, and hiring staff on a part-time basis
  • Information on how to apply can be found here
Business Credit Availability Program
  • A Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is providing $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC)
  • Canada Emergency Business Account – Provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits
  • Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – EDC working with financial institutions to issue credit and cash flow terms loans of up to 6.25 million to SMEs
  • Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.
  • More information can be found here
Support for Cultural, Heritage, and Sport Organizations
  • Canada is establishing a $500 million COVID-19 Emergency Support fund for cultural, heritage, and sport organizations to help address financial needs of affected organizations
  • Learn more here

Government Emergency Relief Fund Information

Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits
  • Individuals in imposed quarantine will have the one-week waiting period waived
  • Individuals will not need to provide a medical certificate to access EI benefits
  • The Emergency Care Benefit program will provide $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks, administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This will provide befits to workers
  • Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury, or quarantine
  • You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573.00 per week
  • The one-week waiting period will be waived for new claimants during this time
  • Visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.
  • Those ineligible for EI and don’t have access to paid sick leave will be able to receive up to $900 bi-weekly for 15 weeks. These funds will be available in early April through an online application
  • Contact: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free).
Toronto UPDATE: For Self-Employed People to Apply
Toronto What Freelancers can qualify for is ‘Special Benefits’ under the EI System. These include:
  • Maternity benefits, which are available to birth mothers only and cover the period surrounding the child’s birth (maximum of 15 weeks);
  • Parental benefits, which are available to biological or adoptive parents while they are caring for newborn or newly adopted children—these benefits may be taken by either parent or shared between them (maximum of 35 weeks);
  • Sickness benefits, which may be paid to a person who is unable to work because of illness, injury, or quarantine (maximum of 15 weeks); and
  • Compassionate care benefits, which may be paid to a person who has to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death (maximum of 6 weeks).
  • In order to collect these benefits, a freelancer must enter into an agreement with Service Canada and pay into the program for the equivalent of at least 12 months. EI insurance premiums are currently set at 1.73% of your net (after expenses) freelance income to a maximum of $747.36 per year.
Additional Information
  • In return, each week for which you collect Special Benefits you will receive 55% of your average weekly freelance income.
  • Participating freelancers will pay their premiums once a year, when they pay their taxes. Right now your annual tax return calculates your federal tax, provincial tax, and Canada Pension Plan payments, which are combined to arrive at your total tax bill. In the future, EI premiums will also be calculated on your tax return and added to that bill for those who opt in to the plan.
  • You may cancel your EI agreement (i.e., stop paying into EI on freelance income) anytime – so long as you have never collected benefits under the program. Once you collect benefits for the first time, you are obliged to continue paying into the program for the rest of your working life.
Other Government Emergency Funding
  • Businesses facing revenue loss including non-profit organizations, charities,  and small employers can receive temporary wage subsidy for up to three months through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
  • A one-time special GST credit payment in early May 2020 will provide close to $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples eligible to benefit from this measure
  • For those with children, the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amount will increase for the 2019-20 benefit year by $300 per child as part of the May payment
  • Federal Government Emergency Funds to be made available in April for those who do not quality for Emergency Insurance

Government and Provincial Websites and Information

Provincial information
Government Financial and Tax Information
  • The Canadian tax deadline for 2019 has been moved to June 1, 2020. Canadians who have filed their taxes already, and owe money, will not have to pay until Septembre 1, 2020
  • Canada’s large banks are working to allow deferral of mortgage payments for six months. More information can be found here

Rent Subsidy Programs

City of Toronto Rent Bank
  • The Toronto Rent Bank provides limited, interest-free repayable loans to eligible lowincome households facing imminent eviction for rental arrears, including seniors,
  • individuals, and families. The maximum loan is two months’ rent.
  • Emergency Rental Deposit Loans are available for eligible low-income households requiringPeople receiving social assistance or living in rent-geared-to-income units are not eligible
  • for Rent Bank loans.
  • first and/or last month’s rent deposit to move into more affordable/stable housing.
  • Contact your caseworker if you have emergency housing needs.2543, 269 Gerrard St E 2nd Fl) or at your nearest Housing Help Centre.housing-support/financial-support-for-renters/
  • Toronto Rent Bank:
  • Access the Toronto Rent Bank through the Neighbourhood Information Post (416-924-
  • More information can be found here
Akin Rent Relief Fund
  • Accepting applications from current Akin artists and creatives and seeking donations to support the fund
  • Akin provides a one-time emergency grant to give short term financial aid in unexpected situations or times of financial instability
  • More information can be found here

Emergency Travel Funding

Global Affairs Canada has implemented the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad, allowing Canadians access to up to $5,000 to help them secure a timely and safe return to Canada and to temporarily cover crucial financial needs while returning home

Associations, Relief Funds, and Resources

Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
  • Regarding audience restrictions and performance cancelations, please speak to the Engager of a production and contact Equity
  • Obligations while under contract (published March 12th) can be found here
  • Equity is holding a Zoom member-only meeting March 17, 2020 from 1:00-2:30pm (ET). This will be an opportunity to discuss questions with Executive Director Arden R. Ryshpan and others. Visit for more information.
  • Equity is collaborating with ACTRA, the Canadian Media Guild, the Canadian Musicians Association, CWA Canada, Directors Guild of Canada, and IATSE to advocate for income support for independent contractors to the Federal Government.
The AFC – Emergency Funds
  • AFC will continue operating during regular business hours over the phone and via email. In-person appointments with programmers are on hold and no new events will be scheduled in their workshop space
  • AFC can provide financial, problem-solving, or short-term assistance with expenses like basic living costs, rent/housing, medical costs, etc. AFC does not provide income replacement or assistance with crisis services or emergency travel funds
  • Updates can be found here
  • To speak to a support worker: 10877-399-8392/
  • Resource and support services information can be found here
TO Artist COVID-19 Response Fund
  • The Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council have launched the TO Artist COVID-19 Response Fund
  • This is an emergency support program that will help Toronto artists who have lost income as a result of COVID-19 arts cancellations
  • The first intake of applications will support artists who lost work from March 12, 2020 to April 30, 2020. Qualifying artists will receive up to $1000
  • To apply for funding to to donate click here
Ontario Arts Council (OAC)
  • OAC will continue to intake applications, continue payments of awarded grants, and support applicants and grant recipients through this time
  • Service levels and the ability to process applications may be affected at this time
  • Update from March 16, 2020 can be found here
Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT)
  • PACT will continue to be reachable via email and phone. They are working to implement a weekly Town Hall call and ongoing regional calls to share resources and offer support
  • The PACT annual conference scheduled for May 19-21 in Montreal is suspended
  • Update from March 13, 2020 can be found here
Canada Council for the Arts
  • Canada Council will be operating at a reduced capacity and will be sharing more information online regarding COVID-19 shortly. More information can be found here
  • For grant application and travel-related information, visit Canada Council’s FAQ page. If you have COVID-19 related questions for the Canada Council, please email
  • Canada Council is recommending that all travel be suspended
  • All public events are now suspended until further notice
  • Core funded programs will not need to have replacement events due to cancelations/delays related to COVID-19
  • Canada Council suggests documenting all financial losses
Toronto Arts Council (TAC)
  • For specific questions and to advice TAC of concerns, please contact your program manager
  • Organizations or collectives may postpone or adjust projects affected by COVID-19 without penalty
  • Organizations receiving core funding will not be required to have replacement programming or events or activities that are delyaed, changed, or cancelled due to COVID-19
  • Daily updates can be found here
  • Contact TAC will remain available to answer questions and provide updates. Contact information can be found here
Additional Emergency Fund Resource

Health & Mental Health Resources

  • Crisis Service Canada – Providing suicide prevention and support. Call 1-833-456-4566.
  • Toronto Distress Centre – Emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention, intervention, & postvention
  • CareMongering TO – Community resource sharing and support
  • Harm Reduction Coalition – Harm Reduction Guidance
  • NABS Support Line – Confidential and professional assistance to marketing and communications professionals. Call 1-888-355-5548.
  • Unison – A toll-free number to connect Canadian music professionals with resources and support for personal and practical issues in English and French. Call 1-855-986-4766.

Performance and Gathering Restrictions

On March 12th and March 13th, the provinces of Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario issued similar public health orders forbidding gatherings larger than 250 people (see below for details and links). Similar orders will likely be issued in other provinces today or in coming days.

  • Order from British Columbia, March 12th
  • Order from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, March 12th
  • Measures from the Government of Québec
  • More information on the Ontario restrictions can be found here: CTV News, Global News
  • What’s closed and cancelled in Toronto can be found here
  • A statement from Minister Elliott and Minister MacLeod in response to impact on Ontario’s heritage, sport, tourism, and cultural industries can be found here

Advocacy Groups

  • I Lost My Gig Canada – A space for arts and other vulnerable freelance and gig workers in Canada and beyond to share stories and resources addressing the impacts of COVID-19
  •’s Opera Artist Emergency Relief Fund – Providing urgent funds to opera artists experiencing immediate cash shortages for basic necessities as a result of lost engagements in the wave of mass cancellations due to COVID-19. is currently accepting donations to help provide these financial resources
  • Canadian Federation of Musicians – Professional organization for Canadian muisicians
  • Soutien à/de la communauté culturelle québécoise – COVID-19 – A  Facebook group aimed at informing cultural workers, self-employed workers and artists on the measures in place for future government actions for financial support
  • UBCP/ACTRA – British Columbia’s autonomous branch of ACTRA

About This Resource’s Resources For Artists document was created to provide information and aid to Canadian artists. This document is maintained by, and will be updated daily as information becomes available. Any questions about this document or about’s response to COVID-19 can be sent through this form.

Additional Resources