International musicians rejoice: Canada drops “tour tax”

Enjoying a Mariachi band at Rideau Hall's 2011 concert series. Photo: Lucy Martin

Mariachi band at Rideau Hall’s 2011 summer concert series. Photo: Lucy Martin

Here’s a heads up for musicians impacted by a hefty fees imposed on small gigs in Canada.

An unpopular requirement, dubbed the “tour tax,” was recently eliminated as part of the government’s overhaul of the temporary foreign worker program.

According to coverage from the Canadian Press, musician and New Democratic Party MP, Andrew Cash, thought the fee was mistaken from the get-go:

“They corrected something incredibly dumb that they shouldn’t have implemented in the first place,” he said.

“The music sector wasn’t abusing the temporary foreign worker program, and there was no consultation in advance of the government’s decision,” he said.

“There was no one asking for it, in fact.”

To re-cap, last summer Canada imposed a work permit requirement with higher fees for international musicians wishing to play at smaller venues in Canada. (For some reason, larger venues were exempt.)

Here’s how that was reported on CBC at the time:

Before these changes were made, a one-time fee was required of $150 for each member of the band and was capped at $450. These fees are normally subsidized by venues across Canada as a shared cost and paid as an incentive to bring bands north of the border. Now live music venues must pay the inflated rate of $275 per artist as well as their entourage (manager, roadie, wardrobe, etc.) without a cap, as well as pay an extra $150 for each band member and crew member’s work permit.

 If the applications for the work permits are declined, the fees are non-refundable and would be required once again for another application.

The requirement generated at least one petition asking it be repealed. there were also complaints the measure imposed excessive costs for smaller venues, while shrinking the musical menu for Canadian audiences.

This strikes me as a good development. Close cross border ties have long been a plus in this region and music is one of the best ways for people to bond and connect.

So, area musicians, were you affected by that rule? Will any of you be playing in Canada more often now?

Just be careful your instruments don’t contain ivory, that’s become a sensitive issue for re-entry into the U.S.

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2 Comments on “International musicians rejoice: Canada drops “tour tax””

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  1. Cris Winters says:

    Does someone know whether restrictions on visual artists going to Canada to teach have been revised as well?

  2. Lucy Martin says:

    Hmm, I was sort of hoping someone else might be able to answer the question Cris raised…but no takers! This is a fairly bulky topic (with federal and provincial wrinkles). Try this site for starters. And good luck!

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