Joly meets with entertainment groups about harassment and workplace safety

Joly meets with entertainment groups about harassment and workplace safety

TORONTO — Heritage Minister Melanie Joly says she wants zero tolerance for harassment when it comes to federal grants and contributions for the entertainment industry.

Joly had two meetings with representatives from Canada's entertainment industry Wednesday to discuss how to curb harassment and ensure a safe environment.

The first meeting, hosted by the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) and the Canadian Actors' Equity Association, focused on the performing arts sector.

The second meeting, hosted by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), focused on the film and television sector.

"I've asked my department to make sure that our grants and contributions are linked to making sure that there's zero tolerance for harassment in workplaces in our arts and cultural sector," Joly told reporters after the second meeting concluded late Wednesday afternoon.

"We're looking at different solutions right now, may they be a code of conduct or different types of solutions to make sure ultimately that people are much more well protected and ultimately that there is much more of a responsibility on the part of people in charge of workplaces to make sure that people are kept safe."

Several Canadian entertainment organizations have come together in a string of meetings over the past couple of months to discuss ways to make a cultural change and prevent and deal with sexual misconduct.

The stage and screen industries have been grappling with a wave of sexual misconduct allegations since Harvey Weinstein was first accused in October.

Joly said she's requested a review of Canadian Heritage funding policies to ensure that organizations receiving funding promote safe and harassment-free workplaces.

The federal government is committed to ensuring there's diversity and inclusion in workplaces and within society, she added, noting initiatives being made on that front at Telefilm Canada and other organizations.

"The past months have been difficult for the arts and cultural sector; we know that from the beginning of the #MeToo movement to the different allegations that we heard in the theatre sector recently," Joly said.

"But now while there is awareness about this issue, people are in action mode — and that's why from the actors to the writers to the directors to the producers, people are committed to making sure that there are solutions and that people in this country, women and men, can work in a safe environment."

In November, representatives from 16 entertainment organizations on this side of the border committed to four steps, including "enacting an industry-wide code of conduct."

David Sparrow, president of ACTRA National, said they'll be meeting again in the next week or so to try to hone their proposals and send them out.

"We're hoping that by the middle of February we'll have a code that people can begin to sign on to," Sparrow said.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press