2021 Ontario Budget Consultations

In February 2021, on behalf of the province’s visual artists, CARFAC Ontario submitted to the Government of Ontario recommendations for the 2021 budget. While we applaud the steps that the government has taken to provide relief to the arts sector, we remain highly concerned by the absence of support for individual artists. As such, we recommended that that the Government of Ontario, as part of the 2021 budget: 

1. Establish a $10m fund specifically to support Indigenous artists and cultural leaders 

This fund will provide much-needed economic stimulation within Indigenous communities and will help to address the severe income disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. 

2. Invest an additional $25m annually at the Ontario Arts Council

This funding should be provided to increase the Council’s base budget, be directed at discretion the of the Council with a focus on identified priority groups, not be restricted to major cultural institutions nor organizations, and be available to individual artists without whom major cultural institutions and organizations would be irrelevant.  

3. Create a high-access, rapid-response fund for individual artists and self-employed arts workers 

This fund should be open to artists and cultural leaders working in any discipline and prioritize those who identify as members of equity-seeking groups. Guidelines and eligibility criteria for this fund should be flexible to accommodate the diversity of artistic approaches, and the unique needs of individual artists and arts workers. The application process should be simple, online, with fast review and response times. Artists who receive Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program income supports should retain those income supports in full if they receive a payment through this fund. This fund is essential for restoring cultural production and subsequent economic activity. 

4. Invest in PPE and HVAC upgrades

This investment should focus on small and mid-sized arts facilities. It will result in accelerating the return of tourism and the associated economic impact.  

5. Implement paid sick days for all workers

Providing a minimum of 14 paid sick days per year is crucial to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

The full brief is available here.

Artists Celebrate Announcement Regarding CERB Eligibility

Visual artists across Canada appreciate the tremendous work that the Federal Government has done to help our citizens in a time of great need. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a devastating global crisis, and the government’s swift leadership and response has been remarkable.

We were concerned about the letters that many self-employed artists received in December 2020, asking them to pay back Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) payments. In many cases, artists received these letters based on the Government’s lack of clarity about eligibility requirements. 

For several weeks, CARFAC Ontario joined artist unions and associations to advocate for change, and all of us at CARFAC are relieved by the Government’s announcement on February 9ththat self-employed individuals who applied for CERB and would have qualified based on their gross income will not be required to repay the benefit, provided they also met all other eligibility requirements

Some details on this announcement are available here, and we are sure there will be further information to come. We know that some outstanding issues may still exist, but news on this change in policy will provide a solution, and offer peace of mind, to the majority of artists that we have heard from on this issue. We thank the Government for listening to our concerns and making changes that will assist many artists from coast to coast to coast.


Les artistes en arts visuels de partout au Canada reconnaissent le travail remarquable accompli par le gouvernement fédéral afin d’aider les Canadiennes et les Canadiens durant cette période difficile. La pandémie de la COVID-19 a entraîné une crise mondiale dévastatrice, et le leadership et la réponse rapide du gouvernement a été remarquable. 

Cependant, les lettres envoyées en décembre par le gouvernement à de nombreux artistes autonomes leur demandant de rembourser leurs payements à la Prestation canadienne d’urgence (PCU) nous inquiétaient. Dans beaucoup de cas, les artistes ont reçu ces lettres en raison du manque de clarté de la part du gouvernement relatif aux critères d’admissibilité. 

Depuis plusieurs semaines, nous nous sommes joints à des syndicats et des associations d’artistes pour militer pour des changements. Nous sommes tous soulagés à CARFAC par la nouvelle annoncée le 9 février par le gouvernement : que les artistes autonomes qui ont fait une demande à la PCU et qui auraient été admissibles en fonction de leur revenu brut ne seront pastenus de rembourser la prestation, pourvu qu’ils répondent à tous les autres critères d’admissibilité.

Vous pouvez trouver certains détails de l’annonce ici et de plus amples renseignements seront sûrement à venir. Nous savons que vous pourriez encore avoir des problèmes non réglés, mais ce changement de politique va fournir une solution et offrir une tranquillité d’esprit pour la majorité des artistes qui ont partagé leurs préoccupations face à ce problème. Nous remercions le gouvernement d’avoir écouté nos préoccupations et d’avoir apporté des changements qui aideront les artistes de partout au pays.