The Association of Canadian Radio Artists (ACTRA) and the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) trace their roots back to the early days of radio, when radio performers across the country organized to fight for artists’ rights, better working conditions and higher fees.
The Association of Canadian Radio Artists was formed in 1943 as a coalition of local unions. Over the next decade, Canadian writers joined the fledgling union and its name changed a number of times until becoming the Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists. In 1984, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists were created to more accurately reflect this changing jurisdiction.
From the very beginning, one of the goals of ACTRA was to improve the lot of their members working in radio, film, and television. To that end, an insurance plan was created in 1959 under the auspices of a Board of Trustees.
From this first policy, covering only Accidental Death benefits, the ACTRA Insurance and Retirement Plan was born. This provided a variety of insurance and retirement benefits tailored to the unique needs of artists in television, film and radio.
In 1975, the Insurance and Retirement Plan Board was replaced by the creation of the Actra Fraternal Benefit Society (AFBS) as a separate and distinct organization. Licensed under the Insurance Act as a Fraternal Benefit Society, the Society was founded to directly insure ACTRA member writers and performers, who previously purchased insurance services from outside commercial institutions who had limited interest in providing insurance to self-employed artists within the film and television jurisdiction.
The creation of AFBS allowed the Society to pass on the surplus that would otherwise flow to outside commercial insurers to its Members in the form of enhanced insurance benefits, Fraternal benefits and subsidized Retirement Plan services.
By 2011, the Society had grown to become one of the top 200 financial services organizations in Canada.
In an ever-changing world, AFBS, ACTRA and the Writers Guild of Canada have remained true to their roots by focusing on their goal: the rights and welfare of members.
Together, AFBS, ACTRA and the WGC have persevered through political and economic upheaval, changes to the fabric of Canadian society, technology and media evolution, and constant change within the radio, television and film industries in Canada.
The mandate of AFBS is to continue to strive to provide financial security for Members who pursue careers where financial stability is the exception rather than the norm.
As a separate financial institution, with a legacy of service to members of the artistic community, we look forward to continuing to serve performers and writers on a national basis.