Canada Scraps Work Permit Requirements for Touring Musicians

by Griffin Davis, Communications Intern

This week, the Canadian government opted to dramatically change the labor regulations placed on non-Canadian acts touring in Canada. The decision essentially reverses last summer’s decision that drew the ire of the American Association of Independent Musicians (A2IM) and the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) among others.

Last year’s legislation created Labor Market Opinion fees for foreign artists playing at small clubs, bars and other unrecognized music venues in Canada. The established fee was $275 per band member, which, when compounded with the work permit fee of $150 for an individual musician or $450 for a band, meant that a musical act would pay a minimum of $325 to perform, and bands with six or more members would pay upwards of $2,000. Given the size of the venues that are affected by these fees and the costs of travel, lodging and food costs to the fees, these fees made touring in Canada financially risky at best and ultimately impossible for many independent artists. Unsurprisingly, the fees faced opposition from touring musicians and Canadian citizens alike who launched a petition to amend the regulations to exempt bars and small clubs that garnered over 140,000 signatures.

Yesterday’s decision not only eliminated the LMO fee, it also did away with the work permit fee for touring acts. Lifting these fees provides much greater incentive for foreign acts to tour in Canada. It will be interesting to see if increased touring grows the live music market creates more opportunities for small Canadian acts to perform, ultimately leading to a bolstered Canadian music scene.

For now, foreign performers who had opted out of performing in Canada or who were forced to find dates in non-bar/restaurant venues may be looking to schedule some last minute tour dates up north to escape the summer heat.

Submitted by griffin on June 25, 2014 - 3:40pm