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Feds Amend CERB Eligibility to Ensure Artists & Other Gig Workers Aren't Left Out

The federal government has announced changes to the recently-launched Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program in order to ensure that gig workers, such as musicians, are not left out. Yesterday, April 15, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault confirmed the news, saying that royalty payments for prior copyrighted works will not prevent creators from qualifying for benefits.

For Canadian musicians, this means that any royalties that receive of less than $1,000 per month, such as from SOCAN or their labels, will not disqualify them from receiving CERB relief benefits during the COVID-19 shutdowns that prevent them from performing.

“"They bring sunshine into our daily lives and we're very grateful for that," Trudeau said about artists during his April 15th update.

Previously, one of the government’s stated criteria for CERB recipients was that they must “expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.” For many artists, they worried that receiving any royalties, even in amounts that were not enough to live on, would disqualify them.

“We were hearing from our members daily about their concerns due to the COVID-19 crisis, and we in turn were in contact with Minister Guilbeault’s office daily,” says SOCAN Interim CEO Jennifer Brown. “We thank them for their attention to this issue and providing some certainty for our members in an uncertain time.”

For information on how to apply for CERB, go here: shorttakes.canadianmusician.com/cerb-portal-now-open/

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.
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