Canadian stars call on government to keep Status of the Artist promise

    Fundamental changes needed says ACTRA

    TORONTO, April 19 /CNW/ - Canadian stars Wendy Crewson, Sonja Smits,
Tonya Lee Williams and Karl Pruner, gathered at Queen's Park today to push for
urgent amendments to the Status of Ontario's Artists Act.
    "This Act makes a mockery of the term Status of the Artist," said Karl
Pruner, ACTRA Toronto's President. "After years of hard work by the Culture
Minister's own sub-committee on Status of the Artist, all this empty Act
contains is a weekend to celebrate artists."
    "This vacuous Act is a sorry attempt by the government to check something
off their to-do list before the next election. This Act doesn't do the job,"
said Wendy Crewson.
    "We had high hopes when we met with the Culture Minister a year ago. This
Act offers nothing more than platitudes. It does nothing to relieve the
challenges faced by artists," said Sonja Smits.
    "Artists are among the most underpaid workers in our economy and they are
without many of the protections and benefits that other workers rely on," said
Tonya Lee Williams.
    In the 2003 election the Liberals promised to bring in Status of the
Artist legislation to address these concerns. For the past three years artists
have been working with a special committee set up by the government to do
extensive research on these issues.
    The Act, as presented, acknowledges the substantial contribution of
artists to the economic and social well being of the province but fails to
provide any solutions to the challenges they face. It fails to include any of
the Culture Minister's own sub-committee's recommendations on Status. Ontario
artists have been waiting for a Status of the Artist Act since UNESCO's 1980
recommendation that governments take action for artists.
    ACTRA is calling for legislative amendments that include protections for
children, income averaging, training, housing support and a process to improve
the collective bargaining process for artists.

    ACTRA Toronto Performers is the largest organization within ACTRA,
representing more than 13,000 of Canada's 21,000 professional performers
working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. As an advocate for
Canadian culture since 1943, ACTRA is a member-driven organization that
continues to secure the rights and respect for the work of professional

       ACTRA Toronto news conference on Status of Ontario's Artists Act

                               April 19, 2007


    Wendy Crewson

    Wendy Crewson enjoys a successful career in both Canada and the U.S. She
has eight Gemini nominations, four of them wins, and she won a Gemini
Humanitarian Award in 2002 for her charitable work for ALS (Lou Gehrig's
disease). She has portrayed multiple Canadian newsmakers including Sue
Rodriguez (At The End of the Day: The Sue Rodriguez Story), Jane Doe (The Many
Trials of One Jane Doe), and Louise Arbour (Hunt for Justice). Selected
credits include Sarah Polley's Away From Her, The Man Who Lost Himself, Sex
Traffic and Perfect Pie, Air Force One, 24, all three installments of The
Santa Clause, Niagara Motel and Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride. Ms.
Crewson recently joined the cast of ReGenesis. She was honoured with ACTRA
Toronto's Award of Excellence in February, 2007.

    Sonja Smits

    Gemini Award-winning Sonja Smits is one of Canada's most renowned
actresses, recognized for her many screen and stage roles including her
starring role in the critically acclaimed series The Eleventh Hour. Sonja is
known for roles in Traders and Street Legal. Her numerous miniseries and
movies-of-the-week appearances include featured roles in Me and My Shadow (The
Judy Garland Story), Dead Husbands, Tekwar, Spenser and War Brides. She made
her dance debut in the film The Rings of Saturn on CBC and Bravo, and had a
featured role in the film Owning Mahoney with Philip Seymour Hoffman and
Minnie Driver. Ms. Smits was a guest star performer in the highly acclaimed
and controversial Vagina Monologues in Toronto. An outspoken advocate for
Canadian culture, Sonja has lobbied politicians and the CRTC on the crisis in
Canadian television drama and participated in ACTRA Toronto's lobby for
Ontario Status of the Artist legislation in 2006. She was honoured with ACTRA
Toronto's Award of Excellence in 2004.

    Tonya Lee Williams

    Tonya Lee Williams is an actor, director, and producer and is the founder
of the ReelWorld Film Festival, that just completed its seventh annual
festival in Toronto. Ms. Williams is best known for her starring role as Dr.
Olivia Winters on the popular daytime drama The Young and the Restless. Ms.
Williams has been honored with two daytime Emmy Award nominations; she is a
two-time recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a
Daytime Drama Series in both 2000 and 2002; Howard University's highest award,
The Legacy of Leadership Award for her tireless work and success in the
entertainment industry; a Positive Impact award presented to her in Toronto,
for her years as a positive role model in the Canadian community; the Doctor
Bird Award presented to her in Jamaica for outstanding artists of Caribbean
descent; the Harry Jerome Award in 2004, and in November 2005, she received
ACTRA's Award of Excellence from ACTRA National.

    Karl Pruner

    Karl Pruner began his professional acting career on the stage, though he
is best known for his leading roles in a number of popular television series,
including E.N.G., for which he received a Gemini Award nomination, Ready or
Not, TOTAL RECALL 2070, and, in French, the popular Radio-Canada series L'Or.
He has guest-starred on dozens of television programs, including Wind At My
Back, Road to Avonlea, Forever Knight, Due South, The Associates, Doc, Mutant
X, Snakes and Ladders and Sue Thomas F.B. Eye. TV movie and miniseries
appearances include Trudeau, Chasing Cain, Crossed Over, Burn: The Robert
Wraight Story, Open Heart, Trudeau II, Tripping the Wire and Puppets Who Kill.
Karl's feature film credits include Dick, The Recruit, Expecting and Welcome
to Mooseport. Karl is proud to be President of ACTRA Toronto Performers and a
councillor on ACTRA's National Council.

For further information:

For further information: For media inquiries please contact: Kim Hume,
Public Relations Officer, ACTRA, Dir: (416) 642-6710,

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