Important Information related to COVID-19

Last updated: 2020-04-01

Watch this space for updates on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting our programs and services.

To identify “what’s new” or has evolved since our last update, look for the “modified” date included below the headings for each section on this page.

Our thoughts go out to the many artists and arts organizations, and to their loved ones around the world, whose health and livelihood are being directly affected by the global spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

We know these are likely to be difficult times. The effects of the pandemic continue to raise many important questions across our borders and boundaries. Although we can’t predict the extent of its impact on Canada’s national arts community, we are sensitive to the many challenges ahead for artists, organizations and their stakeholders.

Effective March 23, 2020, the timeframe during which this Info update applies is extended to July 31, 2020.

COVID-19: Current information and FAQs

Modified: 2020-03-31

If you have a COVID-19 related question for the Canada Council, please email: covid19@canadacouncil.ca.

While we aim to reply to all questions within two business days, our ability to do so may be affected by the volume of queries received and by staff availability to respond.

Before contacting us with a question, please refer to the information below which includes answers to the FAQs that we’ve already compiled. Updates to this content will be posted when/as they become available.

If you would like to communicate with us in ASL or in LSQ, please let us know and we can make arrangements. We also welcome Video Relay Service (VRS).

Canada Council operations

As a preventative measure to help in minimizing the spread of the virus, the Canada Council is now operating at a reduced capacity. Although we continue to deliver our programs, there may be some delays and modifications necessary during these exceptional times. Your patience is appreciated.

All Canada Council public events are now suspended, until further notice.

Like all organizations, our situation is changing daily. As a means of keeping stakeholders informed, we will regularly review and provide updates about the impacts of COVID-19 on our operations in this space.

Financial impact

Modified: 2020-03-26

I and/or my organization are in need of emergency funding. Where can I go?

We are in ongoing dialogue with governments and with the community to understand what is needed, and possible, in terms of additional funding support.

We encourage you to review the Government of Canada's special support measures, including the enhanced access to Employment Insurance, to determine if you are eligible. Since many provinces and territories are also putting special measures in place, we suggest that you contact them as well.

Will the Canada Council continue to issue grant payments?

Yes, the Canada Council is processing grant payments as usual. If you experience any issues receiving your payment, please contact the relevant program.

I and/or my organization are facing financial losses. Will the Canada Council help us?

The Canada Council recognizes the extraordinary and devastating impact that COVID-19 is likely to have on the arts sector.

We are presently working with the federal government on practical and immediate ways to help the arts sector face the challenges of COVID-19. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

Government support measures

Added: 2020-03-19

Artists abroad

I am an artist currently outside of Canada. What should I do?

All Canadians are encouraged to return home. Global Affairs Canada has implemented the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad, which will allow Canadians to access an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help secure their timely return to Canada and to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.

On March 18, telecommunications companies sent text messages to their clients abroad providing critical information on how Canadians can contact the Canadian consulates for assistance in coming home. The Government also continues to work with airlines to ensure Canadians abroad are able to come home.

Access to Employment Insurance

Modified: 2020-03-30

I am an artist or cultural worker whose income has been disrupted due to the closing of artistic venues or cancellation of productions and exhibitions. I am not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). What support is available for me?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide support to self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who are not eligible for EI. It will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

  • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will have the option of using an automated telephone line or toll-free number to apply. 

I am an artist or cultural worker whose income has been disrupted due to self-isolation or because I must care for other family members, children at home. What support is available for me?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide temporary income support for workers and parents without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick quarantined or have to stay home to care for children.

For those eligible to apply for EI, the mandatory one-week waiting period for sickness benefits has been waived, as well as the requirement for a medical certificate.

Through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, those who are ineligible for EI and don’t have access to paid sick leave will be able to receive up to $2000/month, for four months. These funds will be available in early April through an online system, and funds will be dispersed through direct deposit. No medical documentation will be required.

Added: 2020-03-19

I am an organization that cannot afford to keep my employees on payroll. What options are available to me during this time?

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses, including non-profit organizations and charities, small employers may be eligible to receive a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.  For more information on this topic, read the Government of Canada’s FAQs on Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be available to workers who are still employed, but are no longer being paid by their employer because there isn’t sufficient work or because they’ve been asked not to come in. This measure will help to ensure that Canadians can keep their jobs, and that businesses will be in a position to relaunch their operations when the crisis has subsided.

Other possible measures

  • A one-time special GST credit payment in early May 2020 will provide close to $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples eligible to benefit from this measure.
  • For those with children, the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amount will increase for the 2019-20 benefit year by $300 per child as part of the May payment.
  • The tax deadline for 2019 has been moved to June 1, 2020. Canadians who have filed their taxes already, and owe money, will not have to pay until September 1, 2020.
  • The six largest financial institutions will work with customers to provide flexible solutions on mortgage and credit payments on case by case basis.

Further details on the Federal Government‘s COVID Emergency Support measures.

Core funded organizations

Modified: 2020-03-30

I represent a core funded organization. Our programming plans have been cancelled or altered due to COVID-19. Will this impact my core grant?

No, core funded organizations will not be required to have replacement programming for events or activities that are delayed, changed or cancelled due to COVID-19. Core funded organizations should include an explanation of how COVID-19 impacted their programming and activities and how they managed in their annual update report.

The COVID-19 crisis is causing my organization financial hardship. Will the Council be able to help?

The Canada Council recognizes the extraordinary and devastating effect that COVID-19 is having on the arts sector.

As announced in a release on March 30, beginning this spring, we will be advancing funds equivalent to 35% of the annual grants held by all core funded organizations.

These advances will be automatically issued by May 4, 2020. Core funded organizations will not be required to request the payment or to provide regular reporting documents in order to receive their advance installment. If an organization has not yet received their 2020-2021 results, their installment will be based on their 2019-2020 amount.

After this automated advance has been paid, any remaining amounts will follow our regular process and timing, and will require the completion of an Annual Update Form at the beginning of their fiscal year. Any organization that was already due to receive 100% of their core grant in April and has submitted required documentation will receive the full amount as per usual.

Core funded organizations are encouraged to examine the full range of financial support measures available to them during this crisis through the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

We continue to work with Canadian Heritage and our federal government on appropriate support mechanisms to help the arts sector regain financial stability.

My organization is facing challenges in meeting reporting deadlines. Will there be any penalties?

No. Please advise your program officer if you have any problems and we will extend the reporting deadline.

Who should I reach if I have other questions related to core grants not answered here?

Please reach-out to one of our program officers.

Suspension of funding for public events and travel-related activities

Modified: 2020-03-23

In response to the current pandemic, the Canada Council for the Arts has responsibility for limiting the extent of exposure to COVID-19 of artists, cultural workers, and the general population. As such, we cannot justify using public funds to support activities such as travel and public events at this time.

We are suspending our funding for projects that are dependent on domestic and international travel during a four-month period from March 16, 2020 to July 31, 2020.

This includes any travel-related activities that are funded through programs and components at the Council. It applies to any application in which travel is an essential part, and includes but is not limited to activities like travel, touring, circulation, foreign artists tours, etc.

Successful projects for producing or hosting public events, such as performances, exhibitions, workshops, conferences, etc., will receive conditional grants depending on their ability to postpone events until after the government eases its restrictions on public gatherings.

Refer to our event cancellations information for more on how this is being managed and/or contact covid19@canadacouncil.ca, if your question has not been answered.

If you submit a project that includes travel within the blackout period or an event that you decide to cancel, you may withdraw your application so that it does not count towards your application limits. The application limits may restrict your ability to apply for a different project later.

What will happen to my application if it is dependent on travel within the blackout period?

Applications that are submitted after March 16, 2020 for projects that are dependent on travel within the blackout period will be ruled ineligible if they are not withdrawn prior to assessment. You can monitor the progress of your application in the portal.

My application, which is dependent on travel within the blackout period, has already been submitted, but I don’t have my results yet. What will happen?

If you can cancel the activity without incurring costs, please withdraw your application as soon as possible. If you are unable to withdraw your application using the portal, please contact the relevant program

Only part of my application includes travel within the blackout period. Is the whole project ineligible?

No, only the travel costs are ineligible. You will be asked to revise your project and budget. If your project is not feasible without the travel, you will be asked to withdraw the application and it will not count towards your application limits. If your travel can be postponed or modified, please contact the relevant program with the revised information.

What about a project for travel that takes place after the blackout period?

Go ahead and apply but please check the dates for the blackout period regularly. Dates may change as we monitor the situation. Your application could be deemed ineligible if you do not withdraw the application before it is assessed. You can monitor the progress of your application in the portal.

I have already been awarded a grant for a project that includes travel within the blackout period. What should I do?

The Canada Council strongly recommends that you cancel your travel.

We will allow you to retain the funds to be applied to other eligible expenses related to the project, including costs related to modifying, postponing or cancelling activities.

You must document the impact of COVID-19 and how you used those funds in your final report which you must submit to the relevant program for approval.

If you are not able to spend all of the funds on eligible expenses, you will be required to repay those funds. The Council cannot unfortunately allow you to spend those funds on activities unrelated to the approved project.

Other travel-related questions

Modified: 2020-03-23

I’ve received a grant to travel or tour with respect to an event that has been cancelled. I can’t get reimbursed for some or all of my expenses. Will I have to pay back the grant?

The Canada Council will allow you to retain the funds to be applied to other eligible expenses related to the project, including costs related to modifying, postponing or cancelling activities.

You must document the impact of COVID-19 and how you used those funds in your final report which you must submit to the relevant program for approval.

If you are not able to spend all of the funds on eligible expenses, you will be required to repay those funds. The Council cannot unfortunately allow you to spend those funds on activities unrelated to the approved project.

I’ve received a grant to travel or tour for dates outside of the blackout period. I would still like to postpone or change my project. Can I do this?

Minor changes to dates or projects do not need to be reported in advance. However, you can report major changes to your project by completing a project update form and emailing it to the relevant program for review and approval.

I received a touring grant and now have extra expenses related to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 (example: change fees, adding different touring dates in an unaffected area, etc.). Can I reapply to have these extra expenses covered?

Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to accept applications to fund additional costs related to a project that has already been funded.

Our return home has been delayed due to the impact of COVID-19. Where can I seek help?

Canadians who are unable to return home due to the impact of COVID-19 and require consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy or consulate in the region.

I’ve received a grant that involves travel outside of the blackout period and haven’t yet booked my arrangements. Can I use the grant to pay for travel insurance?

According to our guidelines, travel insurance to cover emergency medical expenses or trip cancellation is not an eligible expense. Until further notice, if your project involves travel, we will temporarily accept travel insurance as an eligible expense. However, we recommend checking policies carefully and regularly, as cancellations and refunds due to coronavirus may no longer be possible with new bookings. When making travel arrangements, you may also want to consider booking a flight that can be changed or cancelled without penalty.

Event cancellations

Modified: 2020-03-23

I and/or my organization received a project grant that includes a public event. Should we cancel or postpone it? What will happen to the grant if we do?

Yes, the Canada Council is advising all recipients to cancel or postpone all public events in line with the guidance provided by public health authorities.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released guidance that pertains to events/mass gatherings and community public health measures in general. We recommend that these be followed and consulted regularly to make risk-based decisions. You should also check the websites of your local and provincial health authorities, as many communities have decided to limit public gatherings.

If you must cancel, the Canada Council will allow you to retain funds to be applied to other eligible expenses. You must document the impact of COVID-19 and how you used those funds in your final report which you must submit to the relevant program for approval.

I have a grant for a public event and want to move my event online. Can I do this?

Yes! You are encouraged to find innovative ways to continue to share your work publicly. That could include live streaming, podcasting, videos, etc. You must document the impact of COVID-19 and how you propose to use those funds in your project update report which you must submit to the relevant program for approval.

I received a project grant and now have extra expenses related to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 (example: change fees for participating artists). Can I reapply to have these extra expenses covered?

Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to accept applications to fund additional costs related to a project that has already been funded.

I’ve submitted a project grant that involves a public event that could be affected by COVID-19. How will this impact the assessment of my grant? Can I submit additional information?

If the events in your application have been cancelled, you can withdraw the application in the portal until it goes to the assessment committee.

If you have submitted an application that involves public events and you have updated information that represents a significant change, please contact the relevant program. Only information that is relevant to the assessment (e.g., you are postponing the event, changing the participating artists, or scaling it back) will be shared with the assessment committee, and only if it is received prior to the assessment process.

If the event is cancelled after the notification of results and before you have incurred any expenses, you should decline the grant in the grant acceptance form in the portal.

Grant applications and assessments

Modified: 2020-03-23

Is the Council still accepting grant applications?

Yes, the Council is still accepting grant applications with the exception of activities affected by the blackout period. Given the situation, we may not be able to meet our service targets for delivering results and we ask for your patience.

Will the Council be extending deadlines?

We will be extending some deadlines over the coming months. Please refer to the Deadlines and Notification of Results page. Note that the forms and guidelines will not include the new dates we have identified during this period of rapid change.

Is the Council still running peer assessment committees?

Yes, the Council is running virtual peer assessment committees. We want to thank all of the peer assessors who have been extremely accommodating as we adjust to this new way of operating.

I received notification that my grant application was successful but am not sure I should accept because I don’t know if I will be able to do the project:

Accept the grant but indicate in the Grant Acceptance Form that you are uncertain that you will be able to complete the project and you do not want to receive payment until you are certain. When you make a final decision, contact the program officer in your results letter.

Can I still get feedback on my grant application after the results have been issued?

Until further notice, the Council is unable to provide personalized feedback on grant applications because of our reduced capacity. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Cancellation and reimbursement of grants

Modified: 2020-03-23

Am I expected to repay unspent funds in my grant?

The Canada Council will allow you to retain the funds to be applied to other eligible expenses related to the project, including costs related to modifying, postponing or cancelling activities.

You must document the impact of COVID-19 and how you propose to use those funds in your project update report which you must submit to the relevant program for approval.

If you are not able to spend all of the funds on eligible expenses, you will be required to repay those funds. The Council cannot unfortunately allow you to spend those funds on activities unrelated to the approved project.

How do I reimburse any unspent funds in my grant?

If the amount granted needs to be fully or partially reimbursed, you will receive a letter through your portal account. The letter will indicate that you must provide a cheque in the amount of the reimbursement; the cheque should indicate your file number and be made out to the Canada Council for the Arts.

The final report for the grant will not be approved until the reimbursement is received.

When does the Council require reimbursement?

The Council will relax its policy regarding the reimbursement of grants for activities that are affected by COVID-19.

  • For grants $5,000 and under
    • If the unused amount is more than 15% or $500 (whichever is greater), the recipient must repay the unused amount.
  • For grants between $5,000 and $30,000
    • If the unused amount is more than $1,000, the recipient must repay the unused amount.
  • For grants between $30,000 and $75,000
    • If the unused amount is more than $2,000, the recipient must repay the unused amount.
  • For grants above $75,000
    • If the unused amount is more than $3,000, the recipient must repay the unused amount.

Useful Links

For more on Canada’s response to COVID-19, consult the Government of Canada online resources.

We encourage all Canadians to follow the guidance provided by our federal and provincial public health authorities in order to keep themselves and our communities healthy.

If you have other questions that we haven’t addressed. Please email: covid19@canadacouncil.ca