Council Connect
September 2020
This Council Connect is a long one! Stay with me, because there’s BIG news to share.

Our strange summer’s nearly over, and as we head into fall, I’ve been thinking a lot about safety: in our workspaces, in our lives and with each other. COVID-19 has so drastically changed things for how we work, and Council is trying to support Equity members as best we can under extremely challenging circumstances. As provinces and cities across Canada moved through different stages with different rules, it’s been difficult for us to come up with a national, one-size-fits-all plan. We all want to get back to work but the questions are “how” and “when”?

Until we can comfortably answer those questions, a bright silver lining is the recently announced Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) income support extension of an additional four weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks. So many of you raised your voice in Equity's letter-writing campaign, via surveys, petitions, and social media. It's encouraging to see our voice matters. Additionally, as the CERB is winding down, it’s great to know that Equity members who aren’t eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) will now be covered under the Canadian Recovery Benefit (CRB). As more information becomes available, we’ll pass it along to you via social media and EQUIFLASH. If you have specific questions relating to your circumstances, please contact the Canadian Revenue Agency or Service Canada.

Personally, I’m grateful for the safety and security the new CRB offers us.
There are three major safety items I’m happy to share with the membership:
  1. Council has passed a major reset of Equity’s Complaint and Disciplinary Process Bylaws;
  2. Council has extended the two-year window in which there is no deadline for filing a complaint; and 
  3. Equity launched HAVEN Helpline, a confidential 24/7 reporting line on September 1, 2020. 

Read on for more information about each of these initiatives...
1. Complaint and Disciplinary Process Amendments

Council feels confident that these Bylaw changes will support artists when they choose to speak out about inappropriate workplace issues. It's time to put an end to abuse of power, bullying, discrimination (including, but not limited to, acts of ableism, ageism, racism, or sexism), harassment or sexual harassment, racism, reprisal, or violence in our industry. Read the new Bylaws at www.caea.com (see page 18 if your browser downloads the PDF).

      The introduction of a staff member appointed as the Complaints Manager to oversee the administrative process of a formal complaint and any subsequent disciplinary action.

      The introduction of a Disciplinary Panel (to replace the Disciplinary Committee), made up of at least three members of Council and any additional members needed to ensure appropriate representation.

      The requirement for certain types of formal complaints that have been forwarded to a Disciplinary Panel to be investigated by an independent third party.

      The Disciplinary Panel will now be empowered to make a determination of any remedy or disciplinary action for a complaint without ratification by Council, however each party will still be given the opportunity to appeal the decision of the Disciplinary Panel.

    Appeals will now be considered by Council as a whole (minus the Council members who served on the Disciplinary Panel) as opposed to a small panel made up of only three members of Council.

The Complaint and Discipline Task Force consulted with staff and members who were familiar with the process, members of Equity’s Safe and Respectful Workplaces Task Force, former Council members, Equity’s legal representatives and a consultant specializing in anti-racism and anti-oppression. Their exemplary work on these Bylaw changes will benefit so many of us, and I give the Task Force composed of Maev Beaty, Kerry Davidson, Donna Fletcher, Kristina Nicoll, Michaela Washburn and Jennifer Wigmore, a standing ovation for their dedication to the membership.
2. Special Bylaw Resolution Passed in June 2020 Extending Complaint Filing Window
In June 2020, Council passed a new exception to the Bylaws, providing for a two-year period starting July 6, 2020 during which there is no deadline to file a complaint under Article 35(i) and (iii)

Regarding the two-year window Council President Scott Bellis reports "Council's decision is a recognition that coming forward to report incidents of workplace harassment can be difficult. We will continue to evaluate all components of our reporting system so that our members can feel safe to come forward. Two years may not be enough time for a member to make that decision. Our work as theatre artists requires close swift collaboration and emotional vulnerability, which can make incidents of harassment even more traumatic to those who experience them. These factors must be considered when providing systems of safety for our members."
3. Introducing HAVEN Helpline
As of September 1, Equity proudly joined our industry partners ACTRA and the Directors' Guild of Canada (DGC) in offering the HAVEN Helpline - a confidential 24/7 bilingual reporting line for Equity members and non-members to report abuse of power, bullying, discrimination (including, but not limited to, acts of ableism, ageism, racism, or sexism), harassment or sexual harassment, reprisal, or violence caused by a member of Equity while working under an Equity agreement or engagement policy. Check out www.caea.com for more information.
In addition to thinking about safety, I personally invite you to watch a video that Equity’s Safe Space Facebook group recently posted called Invitation to Brave Space (video of Micky ScottBey Jones; author Justice Doula). Group member Jane Heyman also shared Hollaback's Bystander Intervention training. And lastly… Douglas Stewart just provided the membership with an anti-oppression workshop (visit www.caea.com if you missed the session).

This is a good time for learning, and I know myself and the rest of Council are in a learning way as well!
One Last Important Message from Council - SAVE THE DATE!

The 2020 National Annual General Meeting is Monday, October 26, time TBA.

Part 1 will be necessary business and motions. Part 2 will be an open Q&A session with Council and staff. Check out www.caea.com for the Zoom Online webinar registration details closer to October 26.
As we sloooowly begin to get back to work, to me “safety” looks like: bravery, preparation, compassion, patience, trust, and a whole bunch of other things we’ll all discover in the moment. As artists, these are things we’ve always done, so let’s lean into them hard.

At any time, you can reach out to me at vicepresident2@caea.com; email your Councillor(s) or interact with us on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Yours in Equity,
#EquityStrong
#EquityCares
#EquitySafe