Canadian producers, writers secure new deal

WGC members secure 2% annual hike on minimum script fees

TORONTO -- As Canada's no-drama labor talks continue to forge showbiz peace, local producers have shaken hands on a new two-year contract with the Writers Guild of Canada.

WGC members secured a 2% annual increase on minimum script fees as part of a new Independent Production Agreement with the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA), representing indie producers, and their French-language counterpart, the Quebec Film and TV Producers Association.

The Canadian writers' current deal is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2009.

The new collective agreement, once ratified, will run to Dec. 31, 2011.

The local producers blessed the new deal on Oct. 23, and the WGC rank and file will shortly cast their own ratification votes.

WGC president Rebecca Schechter said the latest IPA talks with producers were tailored for hard times as "all parties set aside larger issues in the interests of a unified creative community."

Schechter said a two-year deal, rather than the traditional three years, was done so that the WGC, the CFTPA and other unions and guilds can secure concessions from broadcasters, cable and satellite TV operators during upcoming industry and regulatory negotiations on a new Canada Media Fund, first-time fee-for-carriage revenue for broadcasters and station-group license renewals.

The CFTPA is also involved in terms-of-trade negotiations with broadcasters that will impact on Canadian writers and other creative talent behind indie production.

"The CFTPA believes this deal is a fair one and will bring added stability to the production sector as we enter a period of unprecedented transition," John Barrack, national executive vp and general counsel at the CFTPA, said.

The CFTPA and the Canadian affiliate of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) last week quietly struck a new Master Production Agreement with British Columbia actors aligned with the Union of B.C. Performers, which also included a modest wage increase (HR, Oct. 20).

The current labor talks in Hollywood north contrast with 2007 when rancorous negotiations between producers and unions and guilds culminated in a first-ever Canadian actors strike.