Since the 1960s there has been a contract in place between the union the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and a joint negotiating team of the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), representing clients, and the ICA, representing agencies. This contract seeks to set the terms and conditions of hiring Canadian performers for their services in advertising. Negotiations on these terms takes place approximately every 3 years. These terms are known as the National Commercial Agreement (NCA).
In 2008 the parties agreed to support Canadian performers in getting hired for commercials produced by non-Canadian agencies. The mechanic of this was for the non-Canadian content producer to gain temporary access to the NCA by using the proxy-signatory status of a payroll company, not requiring these non-Canadian companies become full signatories: Article 3005 of the NCA was created.
Since 2008, no new Canadian agency has become a signatory, they don’t need to. They can access ACTRA performers when needed via a payroll company and use non-union talent when they choose. Over the 15 years that this loophole has been available, work has moved from union performers to non-union performers, following the lower costs. In turn, this has grown the quality of the non-union talent pool as performers followed the work. It is estimated that non-union commercial work accounts for over 80% in BC*1 and 50% in Ontario*2. With clients not being signatory to the NCA, they can choose cost efficiency in the union and non-union financials in their choice of agency. Over those 15 years, clients have moved their business from those agencies that became signatory prior to 2008 to non-signatory agencies. Today clients ask for the agency’s signatory status as part of their pitch process, many ruling signatory agencies out of shortlists.
ACTRA and ICA to return to mediated negotiations on July 11, 2023.
For further information please contact Scott Knox, President & CEO, ICA firstname.lastname@example.org
*1 ACTRA Data reported to ICA and ACA 2017
*2 ACA / ICA research February 2022