March 30, 2020 Today the Writers’ Trust of Canada and The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) announced the creation of the Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund to provide support to professional authors financially affected by the COVID-19 health crisis.
The fund will begin with an initial amount of $150,000 and distribute grants in amounts of $1,500 to writers that have seen contracted or projected income evaporate due to the current public health crisis. Financial support for the program is supplied by three program partners: the Writers’ Trust, TWUC, and RBC.
The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an economic crisis for self-employed workers across Canada. Professional literary creators have been especially hard hit. Within a matter of days, book tours, lectures, performances, and school visits were cancelled. Other sources of income in the form of contracts for publishing-related or other projects have disappeared or been indefinitely postponed. Many professional writers are left struggling to buy groceries or medications or pay rent.
In a survey of its membership, TWUC confirmed that to date the authors surveyed project a total loss exceeding $1.68 million and that individual writers on average are citing a loss of $3,267. These losses will increase as the crisis continues, and TWUC will continue to track them.
Each year the Writers’ Trust distributes money to writers in need through its emergency grant program, the Woodcock Fund. These grants are invaluable, and the demand during the present crisis exceeds what that program can match.
Beginning today, applications to the program can be made via writerstrust.com/relieffund. Applications to the program are due on April 9 and grants will be dispersed within a week.
Applications are open to professional writers who meet the eligibility criteria, which includes matching minimal publishing thresholds in the last five years as well as detailing a total loss of income that exceeds the grant amount.
A successive round of application will follow later in the month of April, and subsequent rounds will follow as additional funds are obtained. In addition to seeking large-scale funding partners, program partners welcome donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations who are interested in helping mitigate this crisis for Canadian writers. 100% of all donations will be directed to writers in need. If you’d like to make a donation to the Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund, please donate through the Writers’ Trust here.
“Writers, whether veterans or novices, cobble together income from a variety of sources,” said Charlie Foran, Writers’ Trust’s executive director. “This leaves them especially vulnerable during a public health crisis the magnitude of COVID-19. We are grateful to have partners so committed to supporting our authors. Please consider helping. Contribute to the fund. Buy Canadian-authored books.
“The Writers’ Union of Canada is proud to be a founding partner in the Emergency Relief Fund,” said John Degen, TWUC’s executive director, “The crushing economic blow from COVID-19 comes at a time when writers are already imperiled by regulatory failure around copyright licensing. And yet more than ever, the works of Canada’s authors are desperately in demand by teachers and students. We hope our contribution will inspire others to donate to keep authors working.”
About the Writers’ Trust of Canada
The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs including ten national literary awards, a fellowship, financial grants, career development initiatives for emerging writers, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country. Additional information is available at writerstrust.com.
About The Writers’ Union of Canada
The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is the national organization of professionally published writers. TWUC was founded in 1973 to work with governments, publishers, booksellers, and readers to improve the conditions of Canadian writers. Now over 2,100 members strong, TWUC promotes the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. TWUC believes a lively and diverse literary culture is essential in defining Canada and its people. Learn more at writersunion.ca.
*The Writers’ Union would like to acknowledge Doris McCarthy, a beloved late member of TWUC, whose artistic estate provides a large portion of their contribution to the program.
Writers’ Trust of Canada, executive director
The Writers’ Union of Canada, executive director