Huge economic value in Toronto's culture industry

A Town Crier Community Column

So many workers in the culture industry call our community home. You might see a neighbour from time to time in a TV commercial, or one of your favourite Canadian shows.

You might have neighbours who are makeup artists, who build sets or do electrical work, or who work in the expanding new media field. With our community being home to one of the largest concentrations of film, television and new media workers in Canada, chances are good you see one of them every week—whether you know it or not.

We often think of the cultural value to their work, but there’s a huge economic value, too. Last year, the industry generated $900 million in the Toronto area alone.

Some of that comes from the south end of our community, which is home to studios, set design houses and prop shops. We’ve all got a stake in this industry.

The unions for audio-visual workers have been negotiating collective agreements with film producers on pay and working conditions for decades. To help those contracts enjoy higher levels of legal certainty, and less legal wrangling, I recently introduced legislation at Queen’s Park so we can spend more on producing great television, film and new media, and less on the lawyers.

In short, it will ensure disputes will be dealt with at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, instead of fighting in court.

It was written in consultation with many of the players in the film and television industry. Read what they have to say, and let the provincial government know it’s time for better protection for culture workers.

“An industry of that size and importance needs whatever stability we can give it and the workers deserve to know their contracts are 100 percent safe,” said Jonathon Ahee, President of NABET 700 CEP.

“Most of the time everything works fine, but persistent ambiguity about the legal status of the Ontario film and television industry makes it unnecessarily complicated, time-consuming and expensive to sort things out when disagreements arise. The result is money that should be spent on filmmaking is wasted on legal manoeuvers,” said Heather Allin, President of ACTRA Toronto.

“This legislation, if passed, will send a message of stability and assist us in pursuing work opportunities for all artists and other cultural workers in Ontario.

The proposed legislation codifies the practices we have used for many years,” said Ron Haney, CEO & Executive Director of the Directors Guild of Canada-Ontario.

The professionals who work in the media industries in our communities just want their union agreements with producers to be respected so they can do their jobs.

About this article:

By: Peter Tabuns
Posted: Dec 15 2010 1:32 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto