Coalition lobbying for insurance subsidy for freelancers
The Canadian Media Guild has joined with a coalition of artists’ associations to lobby the federal government for funding for a program that would offer self-employed arts and cultural workers a subsidy on extended health insurance.
Staff rep Keith Maskell told Story Board this week that the Canadian Media Guild is proud to be a member of the steering committee for this initiative.
“Self-employed Canadians in the arts/culture sector have a hard time accessing extended healthcare, life and dental benefits at a reasonable cost,” said Maskell.
“Some people may have access to group insurance by dint of other full-time or part-time employment, or sometimes through a spouse or partner’s benefits plan, but that still leaves a lot of Canadians vulnerable,” he said.
The coalition plans to approach the federal government to request a contribution of $10 million that would go towards providing a subsidy for professional artists who subscribe to certain private insurance programs. Other member associations in the coalition include the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), The Writers’ Union of Canada, The Actors’ Fund of Canada, the Canadian Dance Assembly, and CARFAC Ontario.
For the past couple of years the CMG has been a partner in the Writers Coalition and Arts & Entertainment insurance plans offered by AFBS (the Actra Fraternal Benefits Society). Maskell said the programs have been successful so far and increased enrolment would be of benefit.
“If we can encourage more people to express an interest in buying this sort of coverage, it’s possible that other insurance companies will want to get in on the game, creating competition and lowering prices as a result.”
Maskell is hopeful that the government will see the long-term economic sense in helping freelancers obtain extended health insurance.
“Over the past few years we’ve seen some small steps to help self-employed workers,” said Maskell.
“For example, they now have some access to Employment Insurance benefits. And by helping ensure access to good preventative care and therapy, we reduce the load on the public healthcare system,” he said.
“At this point we’re still rolling the rock up the hill, but it’s exciting to be involved at this stage of the process.”
For more information about this initiative, you can read the letter that PWAC sent to artists’ associations across the country last week to ask for support.