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The Writers’ Trust of Canada, The Writers’ Union of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, and Access Copyright Foundation* have joined forces to launch a $250,000 relief fund to support professional authors affected financially by the COVID-19 health crisis. 

*Funds from Access Copyright Foundation will be directed to writers and visual artists



The current public health emergency has triggered an economic crisis for self-employed workers across Canada. Professional literary and visual creators have been especially hard hit. Within a matter of days, tours, lectures, performances, and school visits were cancelled. Other sources of income in the form of contracts for publishing-related or non-related projects have disappeared or been indefinitely postponed. Many writers and visual artists are left struggling to buy groceries or medications or pay rent.

Each year the Writers’ Trust distributes money to writers in need through its emergency grant program, the Woodcock Fund. These grants are invaluable, but demand during the present crisis exceeds what that program can match. The Writers’ Trust and Writers’ Union have approached partners such as RBC and Access Copyright Foundation to develop a coordinated response to this urgent need. They have collectively raised $360,000 so far for this project, and continue to talk to other participants and funding bodies about the possibility of increasing the pool of funds available.

 Who can apply?  

Applications are open to all professional creators who:

  • are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
  • work in the categories of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, literature for young readers, or playwriting.
  • demonstrate an ability to generate income by publishing their work in at least one book, or three pieces in fee-paying magazines, journals, or anthologies since January 1, 2015, or self-publish, provided they are members of The Writers’ Union of Canada.
  • can confirm a total loss of income exceeding $1,500 for the period between March 1 – August 31, 2020. Any lost income, related to your craft or not, will be considered. Reasonable projections for lost income will also be considered.

Writers working in any language are eligible provided they meet the above criteria. It is requested that those who have been able to retain a steady household income and have not been unduly affected financially during the present crisis refrain from applying to the Emergency Relief Fund at this time. 


All applicants will be notified of the results around 10 days following the deadline (first round deadline was April 9, second round deadline was April 20, third deadline was extended to May 7, and fourth deadline is June 15). Applicants only need to apply once; eligible applications that are unsuccessful will remain in competition for future rounds.

Who is not eligible?

Writers working in the categories of screenwriting, journalism, and academics are ineligible for this program at this time.

In two previous funding rounds Access Copyright Foundation was a program sponsor and eligibility was expanded to include all ACF’s constituents, which include writers as well as visual artists who have had work appear in print. That funding has since been distributed. As of June, the program returns to being available exclusively to writers. The Writers' Trust and The Writers' Union created this program and both organizations have as their focus Canadian writers. We are focused on directing our support to that constituency at this time. We realize this is regrettable to visual artists, but hope understandable.

How are applications assessed?

Applications will be processed and assessed by Writers’ Trust and Writers’ Union staff. To satisfy the assessment of your application and confirm your eligibility, applicants may be required to submit further documentation. 

Given the sizeable impact of COVID-19 on the arts and culture sector we anticipate this fund will be in high demand. As the volume of eligible applicants exceeds available funds, recipients will be determined by lottery. All successful applicants will receive $1,500. 

Additional information

Subsequent funding rounds may follow if additional funds are obtained.


Please consider making a donation to the Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund. 100% of all donations will be directed to writers in need.

In addition to seeking large-scale funding partners, we welcome donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations who are interested in helping mitigate this crisis for Canadian writers.

Questions? Please contact: 

James Davies, Program Director 


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