Performing Arts Exemptions Around Hiring Temporary Foreign Workers

By Brittany Duggan
  • Kate Cornell and the Honourable Stéphane Dion at Arts Day on the Hill 2014

The Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA) recently shared with its membership that the Government of Canada has announced the creation of a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption category for the performing arts disciplines of dance, opera, orchestra and live theatre. The exemption takes effect February 17.

“The CDA, along with its sister organizations in the performing arts, welcomes the performing arts exemption to the LMIA process,” says Kate Cornell, CDA executive director. “It is very satisfying to see advocacy pay off in such a tangible way for dance. The performing arts exemption will save Canadian dance companies more than $100,000 in fees and countless hours of administrative management. Notably, this exemption applies to only operating clients of the Canada Council, so the CDA continues to advocate on behalf of the dance organizations missed by this policy.”

The rules governing the employment of temporary foreign workers in Canada were revised in June of 2014. The government’s intentions were to ensure that Canadians were given priority over foreign nationals for employment opportunities; that Canadian employers comply with employment standards; and that foreign workers are treated fairly and equitably under the law while they are working for a Canadian company. However, when applied as a blanket policy across all sectors, what appeared as an attempt at equitable treatment became prohibitive and punishing. Dance, as a nomadic and global practice, relies on open borders and artistic merit, both of which are troubled by changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

In a feature article from The Dance Current’s January/February 2015 issue, Bridget Cauthery explored the ramifications of these changes within the dance community in “Lasting Effects: How Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program Are Impacting the Dance Community.”

For more information, visit >> cda-acd.ca/en/advocacy/

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