COVID-19: Playback’s resource guide

An overview of the financial, informational and mental health supports and resources available to Canadian industry members during the COVID-19 crisis, updated regularly.

Canada’s screen-based industry has tackled the novel coronavirus pandemic with a wave of support, creating emergency aid funds, information resources and other support systems. Keeping track of what’s available is a herculean effort on its own, so Playback has put together this resource guide, which will be updated regularly with financial resources, information guides and mental health tips and initiatives.


Financial resources

Emergency funds:

Individuals who have lost their income due to COVID-19 can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. The federal benefit was tweaked this week to include those who have recently run out of employment insurance and those who make less than $1,000 a month due to reduced work hours now also qualify. For parents, there is an extra $300 per child through the Canada Child Benefit program. For low- and modest-income families, a one-time payment of the Goods and Services Tax credit of almost $400 per individuals or $600 for couples. Canadian banks are assisting borrowers to defer up to six monthly mortgage payments.

The AFC provides short-term emergency financial aid to Canadian film and TV workers with immediate financial needs. Eligible applicants will receive aid based on their ability to afford basic needs for the next four to eight months. The AFC defines basic needs as rent or mortgage payments, food, utilities, phone bill, car payments, car and home insurance, and medical expenses. Workers in Quebec can apply to Fondation des artistes.

Businesses that lost at least 15% of revenue in March and 30% in the following months can apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which gives a 75% wage subsidy for up to 12 weeks (or a maximum of $847, whichever is less), retroactive to March 15, 2020. The Canada Business Emergency Account (CEBA) has been expanded to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Canada Revenue has made a wage subsidy calculator available here.

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to support small businesses in 30 countries. Companies who have been in business for over a year, with between 2 and 50 employees and have experienced challenges from COVID-19.

Indigenous organization NDN Collective has a COVID-19 Response Project to provide relief to individuals, Tribes and Indigenous organizations. This includes up to $5,000 in grants for Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs.

B.C.-based crew members of Greg Berlanti-produced shows BatwomanThe Flash, Riverdale and Supergirl are able to contact Berlanti Productions for emergency financial relief thanks to a $600,000 donation from Berlanti. The funds will eventually be opened up to crew members for other prodco titles, including Vancouver-shot series Legends of Tomorrow, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Superman & Lois, as well as the Toronto-shot Titans. The other $400,000 was allocated to the Motion Picture Television Emergency Relief Fund, the SAG-AFTRA COVID-19 Disaster Fund and The Actors Fund.

Industry funds:

CBC has launched a $2 million Creative Relief Fund to provide immediate financial relief to Canadian content creators for development and production. The fund is divided into three streams: The Innovation Stream for TV or digital writers to develop scripted or factual programming (including kids, tweens, youth and young adult programming, and podcasts) a Short Docs Stream for documentary workers to produce short docs within the next three months, and a Playwright Pilot Stream for playwrights to develop an original concept for play adaptation for the screen.

SODEC has revamped its screenwriting assistance program to a development assistance program, with a budget increase from $25,000 to $30,000. The program now includes animated feature projects, as well as live-action narrative features and documentaries.

The Canada Council for the Arts will give up to $60 million in advance funding to core funded organizations, the equivalent of 35% of annual grants. The advances are set to be issued by May 4 to help organizations meet immediate commitments, ensure cash flow and deliver outstanding payments to workers. The council has also paired with CBC to create the Digital Originals fund, a $5,000 grant for creatives to adapt an existing work or create a new project for the digital space. Funded projects will be added to a CBC/Radio-Canada website, while featured projects will be showcased on a CBC/Radio-Canada platform with the possibility of an additional $1,000 grant.

The BC Arts Council has launched the Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement, a one-time grant in April to help its Operating Assistance clients and eligible projects to provide flexibility for organizations. The grant amount depends on the size of an organization, with a maximum of $15,000.

The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec has provided emergency assistance for both creatives and organizations already receiving funding. The measure is special financial assistance created from existing programs to help the industry with short-term problems due to COVID-19.

The Government of Yukon is showing its support for the arts community with a $125,000 increase to its Arts Fund and a one-time special intake which will suspend the threshold and cover 100% of eligible project costs. The deadline to apply is April 20. The annual budget for the Arts Fund is generally set at $500,000 and covers 70% of eligible costs.

Nunavut Film Development Corporation (NFDC) has created the Story Telling Fund for local prodcos and filmmakers with up to $7,500 available for a project. The fund is available to projects that don’t qualify for NFDC’s existing funds, such as the Entry-Level Experience Fund and Short Film Fund.

Information resources:

The Canada Media Fund has an expansive list of financial programs and information, which is constantly being updated with information about which organizations are providing more deadline flexibility, funding advances and payment deferrals. The page also includes updates on CMF’s COVID-19 action plan and a curated newsfeed of relevant news for the industry.

The Canadian Media Producers Association has its own resource page with up-to-date information on the government’s response to COVID-19 and how it relates to the industry. It also has information on its COVID-19-related activity, including a new webinar series for members.

Telefilm Canada’s page has a FAQ section on how programs and financing has been impacted by COVID-19 and continues to update it based on the organization’s ongoing action plan.

The Department of Canadian Heritage has its own FAQ page on how funding programs have been affected by COVID-19 and any potential deadline changes.

ACTRA National has a dedicated COVID-19 page with a thorough explanation of CERB for its members and links to regular updates about relevant information regarding financial assistance and other pandemic-related measures.

APTN News is tracking the impact COVID-19 has on Indigenous communities along with answers on common concerns and a roundup of its ongoing coverage.

For parents at home with the little ones, the National Film Board of Canada is offering free educational tools to keep Canadian youth learning and engaged while schools are closed.

Ontario Creates has compiled a list of online professional development resources and special interest courses.

Additional organizations with resource pages related to COVID-19 include Creative BCFilm OntarioManitoba Film & MusicOntario Creates, On Screen Manitoba.

Mental health resources:

The Canadian Mental Health Association has compiled a list of resources to help individuals cope with potential stress and anxiety due to the pandemic.

The Government of Canada has invested in the Wellness Together Canada program to provide online mental health tools and resources, as well as opportunities to connect with mental health professionals.

Psychiatrist Jerome Perera has published an extensive guide on how to maintain mental health and wellness during the pandemic.

Bell Let’s Talk increased its mental health funding by $5 million in response to COVID-19, including donations to support front line response and urgent youth and family services such as the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Mental Health Association. For more on that and other Bell initiatives, click here.

Keep up with Playback‘s ongoing coverage of COVID-19 here.

Are we missing anything? Additional resources and information should be sent to Kelly Townsend at