Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wanted to reach out an update you with regards to the Covid-19 situations. As of Monday, all of our employers have now suspended operations in compliance with the Government mandated shutdown.

R.O.E.S have either been filed or are the process of being filed. You should still apply for Employment Insurance rights away. The paperwork will catch up with you. The best way to do this is online and links are available on the Website. For those who do NOT qualify for EI, yesterday the legislature passed the Emergency Response Bill that allows for assistance for self-employed workers and those who do not qualify for EI. They say the portal will be up and running by April 6. We will post updates as they are available on the website.

We are updating the website as quickly as possible with information and resources. Please check regularly for new information. Also check www.iatsecanada.net for updates about what the IA is doing and how you can help. I encourage you all to sign the petition there, https://iatsecanada.net/sign-the-petition and encourage all of your friends and family to do the same, to make sure we are heard by government in this crisis.

There has been a slight delay in sending out the enrollment tool for the new benefits year, starting April 1st , because J&D benefits had to move to remote offices, but I am told that it should be available soon. Please remember we have a very good Employee and Family assistance program. This program is free to members and their families and can help you deal with some of the challenges associated with loss of work and isolation. I strongly encourage you to go to the website and have a look.

The IATSE announced an unprecedent $2.5 million donation to 3 organizations with infrastructure to assist IATSE members in need, including the AFC. They were also instrumental in making sure the Actors Fund of Canada benefitted from a portion of the Netflix donation of $100 million dollars globally. I encourage you to use the Actors fund. It is there to help, and in this crisis we will all need help.

If you are looking for things to do to stay busy in isolation, Linked in Learning (formerly Lynda.com) is a great way to use the time to acquire new skills. There is also a need for fabric face masks. I will post links to patterns and directions on our website, these do not replace surgical masks but will help out in nursing homes, shelters and waiting rooms. If you are sewer, consider knocking a few out. If you are not a sewer yet this is a great way to learn! IATSE Canada will be launching a website called iatsecares, that will explore al the ways you can safely help and participate, including delivery groceries and medication in a safe way. There will be a link on our website as soon as it is live.

Finally, take care of each other. Reach out and call the folks you carpool with, you work with, make sure everyone has someone to talk to. Isolation is very difficult for everyone. If you do need to venture out, be sure to thanks the frontline workers; the doctors, nurses, grocery and pharmacy workers; even the folks at the LCBO. Hopefully we will all be back to work soon, but in the meantime, stay strong, keep calm and wash your hands!

In Solidarity
Cindy Jennings
IATSE local 129