New work permit law spurs industry bargaining in Ottawa

Canadian producers are negotiating with immigration minister Chris Alexander to ease the impact of hiring foreign actors for local shoots following changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program.
Image from Shutterstock

Canadian producers are negotiating with the country’s immigration minister, Chris Alexander, to ease the impact of hiring foreign actors for local shoots following recent changes to Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers program.

Alexander met last week with film and TV industry players in Vancouver who are concerned about an enlarged $1,000 fee for worker permits and a waiting period to process Labour Market Opinion applications that allow foreign actors to work in Canada.

“We’ve recently been tracking a resurgence in interest in Canadian production, but these additional burdens – crew and cast members from outside of Canada are often attached to the production and travel to Canada – could reverse this healthy trend,” Hannah Robbins, manager of global accounts at Chicago-based Talent Partners, told Playback Daily.

Needing highly skilled workers, Canada’s film and TV production sector often taps American and other foreign actors, directors and producers who work here temporarily, without staying for good.

But while the timely processing of applications to bring foreign film and TV talent across the border has long been a problem for indie producers, that issue has now been conflated with new rules adopted in June by Ottawa for its Temporary Foreign Workers program.

That has produced uncertainty for film and TV producers that current negotiations with Alexander and his immigration department aim to ease.

“All of that is positive, the indications from the minister [Alexander] were positive. It’s a matter of ensuring that permits are dealt with properly,” ACTRA national executive director Stephen Waddell told Playback Daily.

Canadian film and TV producers are aiming to provide Alexander in August with a possible solution to the current immigration bottleneck for the hiring of foreign talent.

- Toronto film shoot image courtesy of Shutterstock