Good afternoon, my name is Sophie Prégent and I am president of the Union des artistes.
The Union des artistes represents 8,500 active members. They are performers, singers, actors, hosts and dancers. I will not hide from you that the pandemic we are currently experiencing has had an impact on 100% of our members.
All performers have been affected. Some have managed to get through a little better, but very few. That is why the Canada emergency response benefit has been an extremely quick and effective remedy for the performers' realities. Thank you for that. The CERB has been extended, and it is a very good thing for our sector. However, this only brings to light the precarious situation of performers in our Canadian society, because, every time the CERB is extended, artists tell themselves that they can breathe easy for another eight weeks. One day, we really should think about looking into a more effective and lasting way to help all the artists and self-employed workers who are living in extremely precarious situations.
I sometimes hear on the radio that, in some sectors, the CERB can lead to awkward situations and have a negative effect on our society, since some workers prefer to continue to receive the good old Canada emergency response benefit rather than to return to work. I can assure you that, in the arts sector, we have no one like that. The reason is quite simple: the longer you are in lockdown the longer you are not seen, and the longer you do not work the more it works against you. When you work, you are seen, and to be seen, you have to work. There is no downside to the CERB in our profession, and people would be willing to go to work for less money than it provides.
Thank you very much for introducing the CERB. It meets a need, but one day, we will have to agree to face the facts and find a lasting solution for our artists, since that is what it is really about.
We might consider an income that could complement rather than work against the CERB. If people have some income, we could make it possible for them to have some more and still add the Canada emergency response benefit, a bit like communicating vessels. We believe that would be one viable and desirable solution.
With that, I give the floor to Ms. St-Onge, who can complete my remarks.