ONTARIO’S MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY IS READY TO ROLL!

The information noted below is designed to assist the Film and TV sector with questions related to the framework for reopening Ontario’s film industry and Ontario Creates’ efforts to assist producers with business continuity. As news is released, we will endeavour to provide relevant and timely updates on this page. Please check back on a regular basis for more information. Please note that new information on this page is identified by the pre-expanded FAQ’s below.

The Ontario Film Commission is here to assist you and can be reached at filmcommission@ontariocreates.ca for further questions.

ONTARIO’S FRAMEWORK FOR REOPENING THE FILM INDUSTRY

Ontario has gradually reopened businesses, services and public spaces on a regional basis. Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local public health officials, and based on established criteria, including virus spread and containment, health system capacity, public health system capacity and incidence-tracking capacity.

Film production, animation and post-production are allowed to proceed within the Response Framework. Green, Yellow and/or Orange zones follow the rules set in forth in Stage 3 of the Framework for Reopening, including:

  • Film and television production activities and supporting activities, such as hair, makeup and wardrobe, are permitted, provided that the activities are conducted in accordance with all applicable requirements.
  • Studio audiences are permitted subject to spectator limits.

For areas in the Red Zone there are no changes from the modified Stage 2 rules:

  • Film and television production, and all supporting activities such as hair, makeup and wardrobe, may open subject to conditions:
    • No studio audiences.
    • The set must be configured and operated in such a way as to enable persons on the set to maintain 2 metre physical distance, except where necessary for filming.
    • Persons who provide hair or makeup services must wear appropriate PPE.
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

For areas in the Grey Lockdown Zone, Film and Television production and post-production activities are permitted with restrictions in Control (Red). Please see the most updated Response Framework here.

When operating as a film set, the rules related to social gatherings under Ontario Regulation 263/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 2) would not apply. Provided the film set is operating in accordance with all applicable requirements as indicated in Ontario Regulation 263/20 and further clarified in the attached memo below, these types of workspaces are allowed to operate safely.

Clarification of the rules for regions in Stage 2 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19 Act, 2020)

The Section 21 Film and Television Health and Safety Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development has published guidelines to productions to help identify and mitigate potential workplace risks related to COVID-19.

For more information about public health unit zone designations, please visit Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open website and scroll down to the COIVD-19 Levels by Region Section for more details.

The use of face coverings in all public indoor settings is mandated across the province, applicable to businesses, facilities and workplaces, with limited exemptions, including corrections and developmental services.

The province also recommends that face coverings be used for indoor and/or outdoor gatherings if you can’t safely distance from others.

For work environments that are clearly separated from public spaces, the Section 21 Health and Safety guidelines outlines the recommendations for the use of face coverings at work, click here for more information.

The Ontario Film Commission is working closely with liaisons across the province to ensure production activity proceeds fluidly. Regional and municipal film offices have taken a collaborative and active approach to COVID-19 and have developed processes that will provide a safe return to work and location filming. Please visit the Ontario Production Guide for a complete listing of our 80 regional film liaisons.

HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES

The Section 21 Health and Safety Guidelines were published on Thursday June 25th 2020. Film and television productions are required to ensure workplaces are safe; that cast, crew and communities are protected; and that physical distancing is maintained as much as possible. Following extensive industry consultation, Ontario’s Health and Safety guidelines have been released by the Ministry of Labour, Training & Skills Development (MLTSD).

The guidelines were created by the Section 21 Film and Television Health and Safety Advisory Committee, a public and private advisory body to MLTSD, pursuant to Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The committee advises on Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry in Ontario which are meant to assist employers/producers, supervisors and cast and crew in the industry in determining ways to best comply with their obligations as set out under the OHSA.

Committee representatives include experienced advisors, both domestic and foreign, from all aspects of the motion picture industry. The committee is comprised of unions, guilds, producers associations and municipal and provincial government representatives representing film, television and commercial production. These entities have worked hand-in-hand with MLTSD throughout the drafting process.

The guidelines offer non-prescriptive and scalable protocols, providing productions of any size with a foundation for safe return to work protocols. The guidelines contain general and department specific recommendations and resources. Each production will need to determine their own specific implementation plan and have this in places of employment.

The guidelines have been hosted on www.filmsafety.ca. For general COVID-19 compliance questions, please contact Ontario’s Health and Safety Contact Centre at webOHS@ontario.ca.

Full document available here: FILM AND TELEVISION INDUSTRY HEALTH AND SAFETY DURING COVID-19 (PDF)

Departmental Guidance

  1. Buying
  2. Camera
  3. Construction
  4. Food
  5. Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe
  6. Locations and Studios
  7. Performers
  8. Post-Production, Animation and Post-Production VFX
  9. Production Offices
  10. Technicians (General)
  11. Transportation

The provincial government does not require health and safety guidelines to be submitted by employers. Regional and municipal film offices may ask for production companies to indicate that they have a plan as part of the location permitting process, but they will not be required to submit documentation to acquire a film permit.

All companies operating in Ontario are required to have a COVID-19 plan in place for their production.

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PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND SERVICES

The Province of Ontario has compiled a comprehensive list of Personal Protective Equipment suppliers and sanitation services from across the Province. This information can be found on Ontario Together. Ontario’s 1600+ production services can also be found on the Ontario Production Guide.
The Ministry of Health has allowed licensed private community laboratory providers to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Film and television productions who wish to arrange their own private testing regime should contact a private, licensed clinical laboratory authorized to perform this testing. Please see this letter of approval for more details.

The following laboratories are licensed for private testing:

Community Lab Contact Information
Alpha Laboratories Inc. gerard.kennedy@alphalaboratories.ca
LifeLabs Charles.Brown@lifelabs.com
Dynacare CicirettoV@dynacare.ca
COVID-19 testing in Ontario must be performed in a laboratory licensed under the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act (LSCCLA). The LSCCLA governs both specimen collection and laboratory testing.

Licensing and accreditation are both necessary to ensure laboratories and collection centres are operating in a quality and competent manner according to international standards. This ensures results are accurate and reliable and the testing process is safe to the public.

Certain regulated health professionals (physicians, in this case) may collect a specimen or conduct a test without being licensed as a specimen collection centre or a laboratory because they are exempt from the licensing requirements of the LSCCLA. The oversight of these activities undertaken by a regulated health professional would be with their respective regulatory colleges (e.g. CPSO for physicians).

COVID-19 is a disease of public health significance and it is imperative that local public health units receive reports of positive test results.  Currently, specimens collected for testing (COVID-19 or other) can be sent out of province or out of country for testing.

Specimens must be collected by a licensed specimen collection centre in Ontario, or by a health professional authorized to collect specimens without a licence under the LSCCLA.  The specimens are then sent to a licensed Ontario laboratory, which may send the specimens out of country for processing.

The licensed Ontario laboratory is responsible for meeting necessary legislative and regulatory requirements under the LSCCLA, Health Protection and Promotion Act, Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, and all other applicable legislation.

Certain regulated health professionals (physicians, in this case) may collect a specimen or send it out of province or out of country for testing. In this scenario, the physician is responsible for meeting necessary legislative and regulatory requirements listed above.

The Ministry of Health is working to ensure access to COVID-19 specimen collection and testing for symptomatic and at-risk asymptomatic persons as part of its COVID-19 testing strategy. Any lab interested in becoming licensed in Ontario send inquiries to LaboratoryLicensing@ontario.ca.

Ontario is working to ensure that all tests are processed in a timely manner.  In the event that the demand for testing exceeds capacity, publicly funded testing for symptomatic and at-risk persons will be prioritized.

TRAVEL AND BORDERS

The Province of Ontario does not have travel restrictions in place within the Province.
Travellers within Canada may encounter restrictions trying to enter certain provinces. In all instances travellers will be subject to a health check prior to boarding any domestic flights. For up-to-date information on Domestic and International travel restrictions, please click here. There are currently no quarantine protocols for travellers entering Ontario from other provinces.

International travel is restricted, but travelers from the US can enter under the Immigration Mobility Program and get a permit at their point of entry into Ontario from international locations. Individuals who are able to enter Ontario must quarantine for 14 days and be prepared to provide evidence of a quarantine plan to border officials. Toronto Pearson airport is one of four airports country-wide that is accepting passenger flights from international locations. Health Canada offers helpful information about travel restrictions.

The link below provides further clarification on foreign nationals from US destinations and, foreign nationals from non-US destinations arriving in Canada for film and television work. This link also provides further clarity on how non-discretionary or non-optional, immediate family members can join temporary workers in Canada for the duration of their work term.

Canada Border Services Agency, Covid-19 Orders in Council

Travellers should be advised that as of March 31, 2020, anyone arriving in Canada by any mode (air, land or marine) must provide their contact information to a border services officer when seeking entry. This information is collected on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada to support their compliance and enforcement of the 14-day quarantine or isolation requirement outlined in the Order in Council 2020-0260. Mandatory quarantine applies to travellers without symptoms of COVID-19. Quarantine instructions can be found on Health Canada’s Awareness Resources site.

Workers in the film and television industry who apply for their Canadian work permit online from abroad are now eligible for priority processing (14-day service) if they self-identify as part of the film and television industry. Please visit the link below for more information about the measures in place for the Film and Television industry, eligibility criteria and guidelines.

Measures in place for foreign nationals in the film and television industry

GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS AND MITIGATION EFFORTS

Processing of all cultural media tax credits (OPSTC, OFTTC, OCASE, OIDMTC, OBPTC) is continuing as usual.  Please continue to monitor the Online Application Portal for updates and questions on your file from your analyst. More information about Ontario’s Film and Television tax credit programs can be found here.
Ontario Creates has developed a Tax Credit Calculation tool that will help you estimate your potential tax credit for the OFTTC and OPSTC. Check out these new tools by following the links below:

Ontario Production Services Tax Credit Calculation Tool
Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit Calculation Tool

  • File reviews will not be held up if the administration fee has not yet been received. As cheques cannot be processed at this time, applicants are requested to register for e-payment here: electronic payment.
  • Where electronic payment is not possible and file reviews are complete, Certificates of Eligibility will be issued subject to applicants acknowledging, in writing, their obligation to pay the outstanding administration fee. Subsequent applications (submitted after return to normal business) from the company and their associated companies will not be processed until the outstanding administration fees are paid.
  • Refunds of tax credit administration fees will only be available by electronic payment.
  • Certificates cannot be picked up at this time.  Applicants and CRA will be notified electronically when certificates are issued, including the certificate number for reference.  Physical certificates will be available upon return to normal business.
  • Applicants are asked to upload video/sample production content for film and television credits or the digital version of a book for the OBPTC, instead of providing physical copies where it is an eligibility requirement.  Where this is not possible because of size restrictions (limit of 35-40MB), certificates will not be withheld; the content should be delivered upon return to normal business.
  • Where possible, Tax Credit business processes have been temporarily modified to streamline reviews and fast-track certifications.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency has also implemented strategies to expedite the review of Film & Media tax credit applications which have been certified by Ontario Creates.
  • General Tax Credit enquiries should be sent to taxcredits@ontariocreates.ca
2020-21 Programs for Film Fund, IDM Fund, Book Fund, Magazine Fund, Export Fund, Industry Development Program, and the Business Intelligence Program were rolled out as scheduled in March and April and will be proceeding as usual for the foreseeable future. For more details on specific program dates and/or changes, please visit the relevant program pages for your sector at Ontariocreates.ca.

Flexibility on delivery dates will be provided where events, projects or initiatives must be postponed due to COVID-19. In all cases, please contact your Ontario Creates program consultant to discuss the specifics of your circumstances and contract deliverables.  Flexibility and leniency will be provided to the extent possible.

STUDIO SPACE AND LOCATIONS

Anticipating the need for controllable production environments, the Ontario Film Commission has worked with public and private partners to identify new studio space and locations that will align with new production models. Facilities that have opened since production went on hiatus are highlighted.

Our consultants have combed through our Location Library for locations across the province that offer a large footprint to producers. These are just a handful of the 9,000 locations in our Location Library. Our production consultants are on standby to receive your scouting requests. Please email locations@ontariocreates.ca for assistance.

Large Controllable Spaces Part 1

Large Controllable Spaces Part 2

Large Controllable Spaces Part 3

Ontario’s Studio List contains over 3,088,589 sq. ft of square feet, with over 235,000 ft. of stage space coming online during hiatus. Nearly 1,000,000 sq. ft. is scheduled to come online over the next two years.

Please return to this webpage for more information about new film friendly municipal, regional and provincial locations.

ONTARIO’S FILM WORKERS

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING RESOURCES

In partnership with the Ottawa Film Office, the Ontario Film Commission has worked with Ontario’s unions, guild and associations to identify nearly 200 professional development opportunities, health and well-being resources, and live streaming webinars for Ontario’s film workers. Please visit our Learning Hub for more information.

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