The world is facing one of its greatest challenges. People from all walks of life are concerned with health risks and financial uncertainty due to the covid-19 pandemic, and the music community is of no exception in these unprecedented times.
Since the outbreak, Unison has received an overwhelming number of requests for assistance from the music community and we continue to do everything in our means to provide support to all who need it. In response, we launched the Unison COVID-19 Relief Program, supported by the Slaight Family Foundation, Spotify, Amazon Music, RBC Foundation, Molson Coors, as well as dozens of online fundraisers hosted by artists and organizations from across Canada. We are incredibly grateful for the continued support.
Over the last six weeks, since our new reality took effect, the Unison office has recorded a +3,500% increase in requests for financial assistance and counselling services, and the number continues to grow daily. To further put this number into perspective, in a few short weeks Unison has doubled the number of people helped by our programs since we launched nine years ago. To effectively manage this influx of requests our procedures had to be efficiently streamlined. While we still verify the individual’s role in the Canadian music industry, we understand almost everyone in our community no longer has an income and is financially stressed more than ever before. Instead of paying rent to landlords, and mailing grocery gift cards, Unison is providing funds up to $1,000 directly to individual applicants to be used for their most urgent financial issues. Applicants who find themselves in situations beyond the covid-19 crisis are reviewed more in-depth and assistance is provided as needed.
Many individuals in our community are hesitant to ask for help. We can assure everyone that all applications are kept confidential with names being disclosed to very few Unison employees, including myself because we need to approve and sign all of the cheques. Our small team has expanded to include another full-time employee, and we are extremely grateful to the part-time members of our team who have stepped up to help during our greatest challenge to date.
If you are concerned about the financial assistance from Unison affecting your application for EI or the CERB fund, it will not. The money provided to each qualified applicant is a financial gift and not recognized as taxable income. If you work in the Canadian music industry and are facing financial hardship, please visit www.UnisonFund.ca for more information to register for our services and apply for assistance.
Unison counselling services are also on the rise with a 20% increase in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019. The number one issue being reported is stress related to workplace challenges. We understand our community’s feeling of uncertainty, we feel it too, but you are not alone during these challenging times. We are in this together. For counselling inquiries and support to help deal with the financial or emotional impact of covid-19, please contact 1-855-986-4766.
Now more than ever, Unison’s emergency relief assistance is a critical safety-net for members of our industry deeply affected by the virus. Unison needs the support of our donors and partners urgently, as we anticipate a one-million-dollar shortfall based on the demand we are experiencing. The story continues to unfold, and Unison will be there for the music community every step of the way.
Please support Unison by making a contribution if you are able. Spotify is matching all donations made at www.unisonfund.ca/donations/spotify or text the word UNISON to 45678 to donate.
Unison is here to help. It is why we were created and the reason our dedicated staff continues to show up every day. Let us support you during this time of need. Stay home, stay safe, and be well.
Unison Benevolent Fund