Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Fees Hit Sour Note for Bar Owners Who Say It Deters International Acts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Fees Hit Sour Note for Bar Owners Who Say It Deters International Acts

Article excerpt

New federal fees hit sour note for bar owners

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HALIFAX - A new federal government fee charged to international musicians is striking a sour note among critics who say the levy is deterring acts from abroad from playing at bars, pubs and restaurants in Canada.

The regulatory change, which came into effect July 31, adds a $275 processing fee on top of a $150 work permit for musicians from outside the country who are hired to play here at small venues.

Mike Campbell, co-owner of the Carleton Music Bar and Grill in Halifax, said the $425 cost that is applied to each crew member belonging to a musician or band will drive up ticket prices at his 100-seat venue.

"We're talking $850 to bring in one guy with an acoustic guitar ... and that would add $8.75 to every single ticket I sold for the event just to cover the governmental red tape," Campbell told a news conference at his bar Friday.

"For some place my size, that just does not make any sense and we will not be able to do it."

Megan Leslie, the NDP MP for Halifax, said the processing fee is detrimental to local music scenes.

"It is crippling small business," Leslie said alongside Campbell.

"It needs to stop and it's a pretty easy solution ... just get rid of it."

The federal government does not charge the fee to places it considers concert venues. Non-profit music festivals are also exempt from paying the fee.

Jason Kenney, the employment and social development minister, declined an interview request. But a spokeswoman for the department said the fee covers the cost of helping determine whether a Canadian should be hired instead of a temporary foreign worker.

Alexandra Fortier said in an email that taxpayers should not have to pay the cost of foreign workers to come to the country.

"It is important to note that when international artists are being booked by a promoter or booking agent to play at several bar and/or restaurant venues across Canada, they are only required to pay (the fee) once," she said. …

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