Category Archives: Updates

AFM Musicians’ Relief Fund

The Musicians’ Relief Fund helps union musicians who work gig to gig and are confronting extraordinary financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that you must meet ALL of the following five requirements to apply for financial assistance:

  1. You must currently be a member in good standing of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.
  2. You must be primarily engaged as a freelance musician.
  3. You must not be receiving post-COVID-19 lockdown payments of any sort from a musical employer, which payments flow from an agreement between an employer and AFM or one of its locals.
  4. You must reside and work in the United States or Canada.
  5. You have lost work due to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

Applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis, and must be received by November 15, 2020. Payment amount is subject to availability of funds. Initial payments will not exceed $300 but may be revised upward if additional funding permits.

Application Form:

Jigsaw Casting is seeking professional Musicians or Singers

Jigsaw Casting is seeking professional Musicians or Singers ACROSS CANADA to send a song to Self-Isolating Canadians during COVID-19!

Let’s brighten the spirits of people across Canada who could use a lift, by performing VIRTUAL solos just for them, from your own home, in accordance with physical distancing. Open to any talented professional musician or singer who can accompany themselves with a guitar, violin, bagpipes, cello, fiddle, keyboards, recorded bed track, or another instrument. If you have the ability to record yourself dedicating and playing an original song to someone who really needs it, let’s team up to give Canadians a musical boost! Each musical artist will be required to dedicate and perform a different song or piece for 2-3 different people.

Musicians can perform an original song that they have the copyright to or play classical pieces that are in the public domain. In order to qualify, you will need to have lost your job as a musician or lost gigs due to COVID-19 and currently be physically distancing. All recorded dedications must be done from the interior or exterior of your own home.

Musicians will be compensated $900.00. per track performed. Selected musicians will be required to do 2 – 3 songs/videos. Chosen musicians could also receive significant national exposure. Musicians must be members of CFM (Canadian Federation of Musicians) or ACTRA (or willing to join CFM at own expense) They must also be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents to apply. No previous acting experience is required.

To apply, please make a video. Here are the instructions:

1. Please introduce yourself, giving your name and your location.

2. Tell us why you think it’s important to give Canadians a musical boost during COVID-19.

3. In keeping with your own musical style, sing/play an original or public domain song for us, accompanying yourself on an instrument if required.

4. Lastly, give us a quick video tour of your indoor and outdoor space(s) where you could record yourself dedicating and performing your musical solos.

You can film this on your cell phone. Please keep it under 3 minutes long, then apply online with your video to:

To be considered for this campaign. You must meet and be available for the following dates:

DEADLINE TO SUBMIT: May 20, 2020 at 9am.

SHOOT: May 22 to June 15, 2020 (filming yourself from home).



P2 Visa Processing Update

The AFM Canada office is closed indefinitely. Emails are checked regularly, but if you don’t see an answer to your question, please follow up.

If you are inquiring about a P2 visa, see below for some general information.

  1. The CFM won’t be able to process new P2 applications until the office can reopen. The building, however, will remain open and able to accept delivery from UPS, Canada Post, FedEx and other carriers. Be advised that it’s currently uncertain when U.S. venues will reopen and begin hosting music events again, so any application you file represents a risk, as USCIS does not provide refunds or date-transfers (see #3 below).
  2. If the Canadian office received your visa application prior to March 23, it has likely been processed, and a petition is with USCIS. As of March 24, USCIS was still approving petitions within the normal 45-day timeframe. Email Jill Leger if you would like a status update, and she will do her best to provide you with the latest information.
  3. If your work in the US has been cancelled, kindly be advised that USCIS unfortunately does not offer refunds, nor does it let applicants apply an existing visa to a later time period. If your work has been rescheduled beyond the original visa-validity period, you’ll need to apply for a new visa with all the usual fees. In some cases, AFM Canada may be able to waive the AFM fee and when the time comes, can discuss if you qualify.
  4. Until the border re-opens to non-essential traffic, Canadian musicians will not be able to enter and work in the U.S., even if they have a valid visa. Wait until the border reopens before travelling, and please take all recommended precautions.
  5. AFM is lobbying governments on behalf of musicians suffering financial hits due to the global pandemic. If your gigs have been cancelled, please let your Local know. Your voice and experiences can help build a stronger case.

COVID-19 Support Resources

Petrillo Fund Financial Assistance

In response to the fast-moving events associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, we wish to remind local officers and AFM members of the availability of limited emergency financial aid through the AFM’s Lester Petrillo Fund. The Fund was established to assist members-in-good standing who become ill or disabled and are unable to accept work. The following circumstances would qualify for assistance:

  1. A member is diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  2. A member tests positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and is quarantined.

Members and Local Officers may download Petrillo Fund applications here. Completed applications together with supportive medical documentation should be submitted by members to their local unions, which will then submit them to the Federation.

Actors’ Fund of Canada

Over the years many of our members have turned to the Actors’ Fund of Canada, which has been in existence since 1958. Now over 60 years after those visionary actors put $5 into a pot, the Fund they created disburses over $500,000 annually to cover necessities for members of all the many and various trades and professions that make up the entertainment industry, including musicians.

Common requests include:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Grocery costs
  • Medical costs
  • Emergency dental costs
  • Utility bills
  • Dues (maximum of one year’s worth of dues; no initiation fees)
  • Childcare expenses

Unison Benevolent Fund

This Fund is an assistance program created and administered for the music community, by the music community. Unison is designed to provide discreet relief to music industry personnel in times of personal hardship and crisis.

Government Support

Federal – available April 6

Public Health

Other Info

Save Live Arts Initiative

For information on this initiative as well as the petition visit

#CanadaPerforms Initiative

#CanadaPerforms is a $200,000 short-term relief fund that pays Canadian artists for their online performances.

AFM Canadian Office

Vice-President from Canada Letter to Governments

Vice-President from Canada Letter to Governments – French


Open Letter to the Federal and Provincial Ministries of Labour, Ministry of Canadian Heritage and Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada

March 13, 2020

Open Letter to the Federal and Provincial Ministries of Labour, Ministry of Canadian Heritage and Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada

The Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) is the Canadian Office of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), which is the largest organization in the world representing the interests of musicians. There are 25 Canadian locals, representing more than 17,000 musicians, working in all aspects of the entertainment industry, from symphonies to theatres, television to advertising, motion picture soundtracks to rock concerts and everything in between.

The arrival of the COVID-19 virus in Canada has created the need for emergency measures, from the closure of offices and implementation of work-from-home policies, to the restrictions on large gatherings to the outright cancellation of music events such as the Junos, concerts, theatrical performances, orchestral performances and touring. While the CFM understands these necessary and unprecedented steps, they have created a devastating loss of planned work and needed revenue for not only the musicians involved, but for the organizations who have engaged them and now suddenly find themselves without ticket sales. That is revenue that cannot be recouped, and indeed, may have a long-term effect on the viability of those organizations and musicians, and subsequently the industry as a whole.

In order for the industry and those individuals to survive this crisis, there must be appropriate support from all levels of government for musicians working in traditional employment arrangements as well as the precarious “gig economy” freelance players.

The CFM is requesting that government adopt emergency measures in this exceptional situation, to provide security to counteract this critical loss of revenue, through whatever means necessary. These steps may include a waiver of the one-week waiting period for EI benefits (in the case where the musicians are entitled), to expanding the benefit to include freelance workers who provide their services as self-employed contractors, to ensuring that compensation is made available for musicians who have had gigs or tours cancelled for both lost revenue and other expenses, such as the hundreds of dollars, or thousands paid to USCIS as petition fees for P2 visas for US entry.

Consideration must be made as well for proper funding to help musicians and symphony/theatre organizations recover, as well as assistance to stimulate and revitalize the industry once the virus has been contained and/or eradicated.

The CFM is undertaking to gather data in order to demonstrate the loss in financial terms, because of this crisis, and will be sharing that data when available. The CFM also welcomes any questions or dialogue which government feels prudent during these unprecedented times.


Alan Willaert

AFM Vice-President from Canada

Collective bargaining is good for everyone

By Hassan Yussuff, as published in the Globe and Mail.  December 23, 2019

The holidays aren’t solely about gift-giving and spreading good cheer. Many workers find themselves having to walk a picket line around this time of year.

Everywhere you look these days, teachers, public transit workers, railway and refinery workers seem to be involved in some kind of job action as contracts expire and end-of-year negotiations fail.

It can be frustrating for those affected and may even seem unfair that workers disadvantage the public in pursuit of better working conditions and better wages.

But make no mistake, collective bargaining is a fundamental right that helps ensure workers are getting their fair share. This is especially true when we consistently see certain governments, shareholders and corporate CEOs squeezing workers in order to improve their own bottom lines. “Without the right to pursue workplace goals collectively, workers may be left essentially powerless in dealing with their employer or influencing their employment conditions,” reads a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding the right of RCMP officers to unionize.

Unsurprising that some employers, private interest groups and opinion shapers insist on back-to-work legislation whenever a group of workers flexes collective muscle. But the reality is that work stoppages are a rarity—with almost all collective agreements in Canada reached and renewed without a strike or lockout.

In fact, strikes and lockouts happen far less frequently today than in the past. Days lost to work stoppages in federal private-sector, where CN Rail workers recently struck for several days, are well below levels reached earlier this decade. For instance, in 2019, monthly work stoppages recently dipped to a low of 13 for the entire country. This is well below 2017 and 2018 averages.

Collective bargaining is functioning exactly as intended. Workers leverage their collective strength in order to influence the terms and conditions of their employment. Their efforts to stand up for themselves will often have a ripple effect, improving conditions for non-unionized workers in related industries as well as for the people they serve. When teachers oppose larger class sizes and rail engineers insist on safety improvements, the public directly benefits, too.

The significantly low unemployment rate is also contributing to renewed confidence among workers. More discouraged workers and those overcoming barriers to employment have been able to find work. The number of underemployed workers, like part-timers who prefer but can’t find full-time hours, have ebbed.

This is long overdue. For a decade, young people have been graduating into a high unemployment job market with limited prospects. Women and newcomers to Canada have struggled with a shortage of decent jobs.  While joblessness remains far too high in oil-producing provinces and the Atlantic region (in Alberta, it hovers at a shocking 20% for males under the age of 25), there are gains elsewhere. In Ontario, Quebec and BC, the improving job market has allowed wages to tick up – finally. Since mid-year, wage growth has begun to pick up, averaging over 4%.

During the last ten years of sluggish growth, high unemployment and weak wage gains, typical workers in Canada have seen very little improvement in their wages, adjusted for inflation. Flat earnings are partly responsible for the fact that debt as a share of household disposable income has doubled in the past 25 years. Furthermore, fewer workers even belong to a union at all which often translates in lower earnings and fewer benefits and little recourse to improve matters. Compounded with the rise of the gig economy and with more companies outsourcing work, it’s that much harder for workers to unionize as we are seeing at corporations like IBM and Amazon.

In the meantime, Canada’s top corporate CEOs were paid nearly 200 times what the average worker made in 2017. In 2018, quarterly operating profits reached a post-recession high. Workers have spent the ‘recovery’ simply fighting to hold onto what they have.

It’s not just unions that welcome a stronger labour market and decent wage gains. The Bank of Canada also thinks it’s a good idea. Because inflation remains well under control, it has hesitated to raise interest rates. That’s a good strategy because it helps reduce inequality and strengthens the ability of households to cope with debt, food and shelter costs.

We must all recognize that even when work stoppages do happen, they are simply evidence that the collective bargaining process is working. Despite occasional work-to-rule and walk-outs, this is actually a very good thing because it ensures workers still have a say – as they should.

Hassan Yussuff is the president of the Canadian Labour Congress. Follow him on Twitter @Hassan_Yussuff


Canadian Flying Guide Now Available in French & English

by Allistair Elliott, International Representative for Canada

After four years of lobbying the government of Canada, as well as meeting with airline councils, the Canadian Transport Agency, Minister of Transport, The Honorable Marc Garneau, and his staff at Transport Canada, I am pleased to share the news that, as part of the new Passenger Bill of Rights within the Canadian Transportation Act, we now have language in Canada with regard to musicians travelling with instruments on airlines in Canada.

Effective July 15, Air Passenger Protection Regulations within the Canadian Transportation Act included language to ensure that all air carriers must accept musical instruments unless security or safety is an issue.

The airline industry battled hard to avoid the new bill, however, Minister Garneau and his staff at Transport Canada held strong in favor of passenger rights. As such a small part of a major bill, we were thrilled to affect language and changes to the industry and find support from Minister Garneau in our efforts to better represent musicians travelling in Canada.

We have prepared a Canadian Flying Guide in both English and French, which can be found online at:

Each airline also will have clear guidelines published as part of their tariff. Under the law, all commercial airline carriers must accept musical instruments as checked or carry-on baggage, unless it is contrary to general terms and conditions in the carrier’s tariff with respect to the weight or dimension of baggage or because of safety or security.

Many thanks to President Hair and VPC Alan Willaert for their support and investment into lobbying the Canadian government on behalf of all musicians.

U.S. Work Permits for Canadian Musicians

PREMIUM PROCESSING FEE INCREASE: US Immigration increased their Premium Processing fee to $1,410 USD (from the prior fee of $1,225 USD). To apply for Premium Processing, you need to provide 2 separate money orders payable to “Department of Homeland Security” for $460 USD and $1,410 USD.

Regular Processing: Submit your P2 package to CFM *at least 60 calendar days prior to first performance. *US Immigration reports a processing backlog for Regular Processing

Premium Processing: Submit your P2 package to CFM at least 30 days prior to first performance.

CFM Announces Major Breakthrough Affecting Travelling Musicians

Air Passenger Protection Regulations Amendments Include Mandatory Acceptance Of Musical Instruments 

TORONTO, May 29, 2019 – The Canadian Federation of Musicians announce a successful outcome in its efforts to affect much needed changes to Canada’s Air Policy  with regard to the transportation of musical instruments on Canadian air carriers. Effective July 15, 2019, Air Passenger Protection Regulations within the Canadian Transportation Act will include language that ensures that all air carriers must accept musical instruments unless security or safety is an issue. These amendments will include clear and predictable terms and conditions with regard to musical instruments as well as the obligation to carry and accept an instrument.  Airlines will also be required to offer an alternative to musicians travelling with instruments should a change in aircraft cause an instrument not to fit.

“Over the years, we’ve seen far too many professional musicians have very expensive and often irreplaceable tools of their trade broken or destroyed during air travel,”  explains Alan Willaert, Vice-President from Canada, American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada. “We have worked closely with the Government of Canada and all Canadian air carriers on this issue since 2014 and are delighted to see these demands become regulation.  We are grateful to The Honourable Minister Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport who has been supportive from the very beginning; the officials at Transport Canada, who have worked tirelessly with us; and the Canadian Transportation Agency”.

CFM will issue a Canadian Flying Guide over the coming weeks to further assist musicians flying with instruments.  Each airline will also have clear guidelines published as part of their Tariff.  Under the Obligation to Carry amendments, all commercial airline carriers must accept musical instruments as checked or carry-on baggage, unless it is contrary to general terms and conditions in the carrier’s tariff with respect to the weight or dimension of baggage or because of safety or security. The Canadian Federation of Musicians looks forward to working with Transport Canada and air carriers to help make these positive changes as seamless as possible.

For more info:

CFM Discount Program

Dear Members,

We are thrilled to announce that we have expanded the CFM Discount Program to provide our members and their families with more savings and benefits. In partnership with Union Savings, a not-for profit program, we join 70 fellow unions across Canada in this program which greatly benefits our collective members.

Discounts are offered in a vast range of products/services from credit cards, mortgages, home and auto insurance, clothing, car rentals, concerts and more! Some vendors include Canada’s Wonderland, LG, Adidas, BMO, RBC, Park’N Fly, the ROM, 1800Flowers and Swarovski.

Of particular interest to our touring musicians and their families, is our updated, world-wide Travel Medical Insurance Program, which is more comprehensive and cheaper than ever! $138.99 annually gets you coverage for a year world-wide (previously it was USA only) and is applicable to as many single trips as you like as long as each trip is 60 days or less. So for example, you can obtain coverage for 3 (or more) trips under 60 days in length.

How to Register

1)      Register online at

2)      Select Canadian Federation of Musicians, then select your local office in the dropdown menu

3)      After logging in, select the products/services of interest

For questions on your account, how the discounts work or on any of the products/services please contact Union Savings at 1-800-418-2990.

Cathy Lee
Membership Services Coordinator