Canada Unveils Emergency $50M COVID-19 Fund for Local Production

The sun rises on the skyline -Vancouver, Canada - Getty - H 2020
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The stop-gap measure follows the lack of coronavirus insurance keeping Canadian producers from resuming shuttered projects or shooting new ones amid the pandemic.

The Canadian government has stepped in to temporarily cover losses incurred by local producers forced to shut down or scrap film and TV shoots due to a coronavirus outbreak.

The Short Term Compensation Fund will offer indie productions up to $1.5 million if they face a temporary interruption and $3 million for a complete shutdown of production, to a maximum of $50 million.

Canada's film sector has been hobbled as reinsurance companies, which insure insurance companies, refuse to cover COVID-19-related risks, making it virtually impossible for production companies to secure traditional insurance and completion bonds and get their cameras rolling.

The emergency fund, to be administered by Telefim Canada and the Canada Media Fund, is pitched as a stop-gap measure "to allow the industry to get back on its feet," Canadian Heritage, the government department that oversees film and TV production, said in a statement.

The fund also follows months of lobbying in Ottawa by indie producers, unions and other industry groups as they seek a bespoke COVID 19 insurance solution backed by the federal government after the Coronavirus outbreak shuttered domestic production last March.

The Canadian industry has slowly restarted since then with scaled-back sets and social distancing measures, even as a failure to secure traditional production insurance amid the pandemic remains an insurmountable obstacle for most producers.

On Sept. 18, Canada’s French and English media producers associations warned over $1 billion in local production volume was at risk if the federal government did not address the lack of COVID-19 insurance coverage available for producers.