Canada starts charging small gig venues for booking international bands

A petition appealing for the charge to be axed has collected over 85,000 signatures

A petition has collected over 85,000 signatures after Canada started charging small gig venues for booking musicians from abroad.

Any international musician wishing to perform at a bar, pub or restaurant in Canada already has to apply for a work permit costing $150 (£90) to process, but as of July 31 the “employer” – either the tour promoter or venue itself – also has to pay a $275 (£170) processing fee per musician and crew member. This rule doesn’t apply to larger halls and arenas because they’re considered “concert venues” and therefore exempt.

The $275 processing fee is for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), which examines whether the employer could potentially be hiring a Canadian citizen instead of a temporary foreign worker, and applies to anyone wishing to enter the country on business, not just musicians booked to perform at a small venue.

However, according to the petition’s creator Carlyle Doherty it’s likely to have a significant impact on the Canadian music scene. “This means that a lot of small and medium size venues in Canada will no longer be able to afford to book international bands,” he writes. “That means A LOT less live music in Canada.”

Doherty is appealing for Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Employment, Social Development & Multiculturalism, to make international musicians exempt from the Labour Market Opinion regulation, but Kenney seems to be remaining steadfast so far. Replying to a concerned tweet yesterday (August 29), Kenney wrote: “I think employers should pay the admin costs for inviting temporary foreign workers to CDA (Canada), not taxpayers.”