ACTRA talks up wage divide with U.S.

TORONTO — The wage and residual gap between Canadian actors and U.S. thesps working on Canadian sets was a hot-button issue for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists as contract negotiations began Monday.

ACTRA brought out local stars to kick off talks with the Canadian Film & Television Production Assn. and the Assn. des Producteurs de Films et de Television de Quebec for a new independent producers agreement. Current pact expires Dec. 31.

The thesps’ 50-member opening-day team included Robb Wells, Mike Smith and John Paul Tremblay from “Trailer Park Boys,” Eric Peterson (“Corner Gas”), Alberta Watson (“24″) and Wendy Crewson (“Eight Below”).

United Steelworkers Canadian national director Ken Neumann was also present. The Steelworkers and ACTRA have a strategic partnership.

“We turned out in force today to demonstrate the resolve across our membership and to say a few things that need saying to Canadian producers,” said ACTRA national prexy Richard Hardacre.

The union did not give details of the differences in pay rates but described the gap as a “giant chasm.”

Also on the slate: a review of the state of television from government regulator the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

ACTRA, which reps 21,000 actors, has long argued that scrapping minimum investment in Canadian drama has kneecapped the industry.

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