Canadian writers are ready to strike

Canadian screenwriters are making moves towards a possible strike. (But don’t worry, it won’t impact your favourite Canadian content: this newsletter.)

Driving the news: For the first time in its 33-year history, the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has voted to authorize a strike if it can’t reach a deal with the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) that secures things like better pay and protections against AI.

  • The vote, which passed with the support of 96.5% of WGC members, doesn’t mean that the guild is going on strike, just that it can if negotiations break down.

Why it’s happening: The WGC has been negotiating for almost six months on a new labour deal with the CMPA after the previous agreement expired in December.

  • In the new deal, the WGC wants to secure fair compensation for writers, put in place protections against AI, and increase minimum staffing on domestic TV shows.

  • The possibility of a strike could be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations, WGC leaders say.

Why it matters: A strike would more dramatically impact domestically produced content, a growing sector of Canada’s economy that employs a large number of writers.

  • In 2022, domestic television and film production increased by 39.4% from the previous year “to an all-time high of $3.90 billion.” During that same period, ~100,000 Canadians worked on domestic productions.

Zoom out: Last year’s Hollywood strike halted many U.S. productions and stalled Canada’s foreign-dominated filming industry, but domestic production mainly continued. A Canadian strike wouldn’t stop as many productions, but the ones affected would likely be homegrown, experts say.—MR