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COVID-19 Response Plan – Information for Industry Stakeholders

Updated: June 8, 2020

Overview

As part of our COVID-19 response, Ontario Creates staff are working remotely.  We are making every effort to maintain business operations, programs and services to our industry stakeholders as much as possible, while doing our part to ensure the health and safety of our employees and stakeholders.  We understand the significant impact that COVID-19 response measures are having on Ontario’s creative industries and we thank you for your patience during this challenging time. 

Below you will find key information about program modifications, mitigation strategies, and links to resources that we hope will be useful as you navigate this difficult situation. This document will be updated on a regular basis as more information becomes available.

Re-Opening of Ontario’s Creative Industries

  • Stage One of the Province’s re-opening plan included sound-recording, publishing and distribution; film and television post-production, visual effects and animation; and book and periodical production, publishing and distribution.  Stage One took effect on May 19, 2020.
  • Stage Two of the Province’s re-opening plan includes all remaining film and television production activities; subject to maintaining physical distancing between individuals on set whenever possible.  Stage Two also includes existing and new drive-in/thru venues for concerts subject to restrictions on food services, number of vehicles, and public health measures.
  • Stage Two will take effect for most areas of the Province on Friday June 12, 2020.  Timing for re-opening regions in the Golden Horseshoe will be determined at a later date. The detailed announcement can be found here: Stage Two Re-Opening
  • For companies that were Ontario Music Fund – Live Music recipients in 2019-20, drive-in events can be considered as part of your modified program plan.  Drive-in events may also be considered in new applications to the Ontario Music Investment Fund.
  • Film and television productions will be required to ensure workplaces are safe; that cast, crew and communities are protected; and that physical distancing is maintained as much as possible. Following extensive industry consultation, the Section 21 Health and Safety guidelines are under final review by the Ministry of Labour, Training & Skills Development and we are optimistic that they will be approved for posting soon on Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety.  These guidelines will be an important tool, but each production will need to determine their own specific implementation plan.
  • Ontario Creates will launch our Ontario – Ready To Roll website by June 12th which will include links to the Health & Safety protocols, as well as key information about locations and studios (including newly available properties), international travel restrictions, government supports, film commission services and frequently asked questions.  As the situation is continually evolving, the site will be updated regularly as more federal, provincial and industry information about re-opening becomes available. 
  • We will also be launching a corresponding Ready To Roll marketing campaign timed with Stage Two re-opening in the whole province – promoting that Ontario is open for business and showcasing the depth of talent and services the province offers.

Investment Funds – 2019-20 Commitments

  • Monitoring, reporting and milestone payments will continue as usual for all Funds including: Music Fund, Film Fund, IDM Fund, Book Fund, Magazine Fund, Export Fund, Industry Development Program, and the Business Intelligence Program.
  • The Online Application Portal, and helpdesk, are operating as usual for reporting and inquiries.
  • Upcoming milestone payments (interim or final) will be fast-tracked where possible; affected companies will be notified by email and an action item in the OAP from your Program Consultant.
  • Effective March 25, 2020, we are unable to issue cheques; however, direct deposit is available.  You can register for payment by direct deposit here:  direct deposit.  We are making every effort to expedite new direct deposit registrations.  Electronic payments will be processed in the next payment cycle following registration.
  • Flexibility on delivery dates will be provided where events, projects or initiatives must be postponed due to COVID-19. 
  • Activity changes will be permitted where markets or planned travel was cancelled due to COVID-19.  Expenditures will be permitted to occur beyond the originally contracted period.   Costs incurred for postponed/cancelled events will be considered eligible expenses; travel credits and registration fee credits can be applied to revised activity plans.
  • Non-refundable costs that have been incurred for approved activities will be allowed, subject to appropriate reporting.
  • Companies will be permitted to use committed funds for operations-related costs, including salaries. Project outcomes can be adjusted to account for these types of necessary expenses.
  • In all cases, please contact your Ontario Creates program consultant to discuss the specifics of your circumstances and contract deliverables.  Flexibility and leniency will be provided to the extent possible.

Investment Funds – 2020-21 Program Launch

  • 2020-21 Programs for Film Fund, IDM Fund, Book Fund, Magazine Fund, Export Fund, Industry Development Program, and the Business Intelligence Program will roll out as scheduled in March and April.
  • The Online Application Portal, and helpdesk, are operating as usual for applications.
  • Program application processes and deadlines will remain unchanged and staff are available for consultation as usual.  In the event that we are no longer able to provide OAP access, deadlines dates will shift and industry stakeholders will be notified.
  • A second application deadline of August 31, 2020, has been added to the Export Fund and Global Market Development programs. Applicants can choose to apply to either the first deadline OR the second deadline.
  • The Film Fund: Development stream is open with a continuous deadline to January 29, 2021. Program modifications include an increased funding cap to $25,000.
  • If you have not already given us consent to contact you with program updates and communications, you can sign up here: Ontario Creates Communication Consent

Ontario Music Invesmtent Fund – 2020-21

  • The new Ontario Music Investment Fund has launched.  Applications are open for the Music Creation stream as of May 29, 2020 followed by the Music Industry Initiatives stream on June 18, 2020.  Live Music applications will open in late summer, 2020.

Tax Credits

  • Processing of all cultural media tax credits (OPSTC, OFTTC, OCASE, OIDMTC, OBPTC) is continuing as usual.  Please continue to monitor the Online Application Portal for updates and questions on your file from your analyst.
  • File reviews will not be held up if the administration fee has not yet been received. As cheques cannot be processed at this time, applicants are requested to register for e-payment here: electronic payment.
  • Where electronic payment is not possible and file reviews are complete, Certificates of Eligibility will be issued subject to applicants acknowledging, in writing, their obligation to pay the outstanding administration fee. Subsequent applications (submitted after return to normal business) from the company and their associated companies will not be processed until the outstanding administration fees are paid.
  • Refunds of tax credit administration fees will only be available by electronic payment.
  • Certificates cannot be picked up at this time.  Applicants and CRA will be notified electronically when certificates are issued, including the certificate number for reference.  Physical certificates will be available upon return to normal business.
  • Applicants are asked to upload video/sample production content for film and television credits or the digital version of a book for the OBPTC, instead of providing physical copies where it is an eligibility requirement.  Where this is not possible because of size restrictions (limit of 35-40MB), certificates will not be withheld; the content should be delivered upon return to normal business.
  • Where possible, Tax Credit business processes have been temporarily modified to streamline reviews and fast-track certifications.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency has also implemented strategies to expedite the review of Film & Media tax credit applications which have been certified by Ontario Creates.
  • General Tax Credit enquiries should be sent to taxcredits@ontariocreates.ca  

Film Commission

  • Film Commission services continue as usual.
  • Our physical office is closed, however our Digital Locations Library remains available to users. 
  • Many productions have postponed filming activities.  A list of current projects and their status can be found here: In Production
  • Due to restrictions on mass gatherings, municipalities and regions across the province have extended location permit restrictions until the end of June, though this timeline is subject to change. We are monitoring the situation closely and will provide regular updates on return-to-work timing, policies and procedures. Please check the Ontario Creates Film Commission site for up to date information: Location Library
  • As part of our workforce development and capacity building efforts, Ontario Creates has launched a new Online Training and Professional Development Hub.  The new Resources tab on the Ontario Film Commission website provides listings of various training resources, professional development opportunities, certifications, health and wellbeing, pandemic preparedness and general resources that may be of assistance to individuals in the industry, helping film workers make a strong emergence from the COVID-19 hiatus.
  • The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Ontario Creates are working with union and government representatives through the Section 21 Health and Safety Committee to assess and adapt the safety guidelines recommended by public health officials for use in production along with best practice guidelines.
  • Ontario’s unions and guilds also have useful information on their sites:

Events and Operations

  • Industry events and in-person meetings have been cancelled. Online, teleconference and virtual replacements will be scheduled where possible.
  • All travel for staff and associated industry events has been cancelled.
  • Staff are working remotely, but you can continue to be in touch with us by email and through the Online Application Portal as usual and we are monitoring voice mail, although responses may be slower than usual. 
  • Please send your tax credit questions by email to taxcredits@ontariocreates.ca and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.  We are not able to respond to voicemail messages on the tax credits phone duty line at this time.  
  • Our office is closed to the public but general inquiries can be sent to reception@OntarioCreates.ca.
  • Invoices and other documents should be sent by email; please do not send mail by Canada Post.
  • We have suspended pick-ups at our office. We encourage you to sign up to receive payment by direct deposit: electronic payment / direct deposit.
  • Links to key contact information are as follows:
  • We want to help you promote your content and artists on social media while consumers are practicing social distancing and staying home.  Please send us your suggestions at communications@ontariocreates.ca or include #ONcreates in your tweet so that we can support you!

Industry Resources

Public Health