Applying for Unison's Financial Assistance

Personal finances

Applying for Unison's Financial Assistance

Posted by Roo Kailey on May 11, 2020
man holding guitar in open field

The Unison Benevolent Fund’s mission is to help professional music-makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties. Unison provides a vital lifeline for members of the Canadian music community; and due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for Unison’s counselling and emergency relief services has never been greater.

Over the last six weeks, since our new reality took effect, the Unison office has received a +3,500% increase in requests for financial assistance and counselling services, and that number only continues to grow. 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 first launched nine years ago.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff at Unison Benevolent Fund, we would like to thank our valued industry partners that have contributed to our COVID-19 Relief Program, ensuring we can continue to provide discreet relief to music industry professionals during this critical time. 

We would also like to thank all of the artists who have been helping Unison through fundraising livestreams and spreading the word about Unison to your communities. These efforts are helping Unison reach members of the Canadian music community to provide direct financial support, as well as counselling and emergency relief services.

To clarify some questions we have received, we would like to share some information regarding Unison’s financial assistance program, and how it relates to support offered by the federal government. 

If your work has been affected by COVID-19, the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks for those who are eligible. Full details on the CERB are available on the government’s website

Unison’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund provides short-term financial relief to help music industry professionals in times of crisis. The relief fund is allocated toward housing costs, medical expenses, groceries, and other necessities for those who are eligible.

You’re eligible if you:

  • Worked primarily in the music industry for at least two years.
  • Worked primarily in the music industry for 55% of your career.
  • Earned at least 55% of your income from the Canadian music industry, if you are over 65.

You are ineligible for Unison’s services if you do not meet the above requirements, or if you are not a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident. 


Please note that Unison’s financial assistance does not impact your eligibility for government support. Financial support received from Unison (a registered charity) is a charitable gift.  It is not reported as income when you apply for assistance. If you are deemed eligible and receive funds from CERB or from EI, you may still apply for Unison’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. 

For more information on Unison’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief, including how to apply, see our FAQ page here. Before you can apply, you must register on the Unison website. Registration is free; there are no membership fees or dues. Once you are registered you can then access all services. Find out more here.

For counselling inquiries to help you deal with the financial or emotional impact of coronavirus, please contact 1-855-986-4766. This service is free, anonymous, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn more about our counselling services, please click here