Zurich Corona aid – Jacqueline Fehr gets right in the dispute over cultural substitute income

Legal success for the SP government councilor: The “Zurich model” for a replacement income for cultural workers because of the corona crisis is not illegal.

U-turn of the BAG: A success for the Zurich government councilor Jacqueline Fehr.

Foto: Anthony Anex (Keystone/Archiv)

The Federal Office of Culture (BAK) is apparently back: The “Zurich model” for a replacement income for cultural workers because of the Corona crisis is not illegal, writes SRF.ch. The BAK had confirmed this to Swiss television. This would remove the biggest legal hurdle for the controversial Zurich proposal. (Read our article on this: Risky promise to Zurich’s culture – Jacqueline Fehr’s row with the federal government).

For over a month, the Zurich SP government councilor Jacqueline Fehr (SP) and the director of the Federal Office of Culture, Isabelle Chassot, have been arguing about how cultural workers should be supported in the pandemic.

Fehr has proposed a general solution: Artists should receive a kind of basic income that does not require them to provide detailed proof of their losses. Half of this replacement income would be financed by the federal government and the canton. (See.: Dispute over basic cultural income – Fehr hopes for a legal opinion and help from Basel).

So far, however, the BAK has refused to accept this solution. It relied on the federal Covid legislation. This does not provide for all-inclusive solutions. If so, the Canton of Zurich would have to finance its replacement income on its own.

The BAK has now returned to its position. On Tuesday, it informed the canton of Zurich in a letter that the “Zurich model” was in fact compliant with the law, as SRF.ch continues.

Happy councilor

The BAK has now come to this conclusion after having checked a legal opinion from the Canton of Zurich. “The external review shares the assessment of the brief report: the Covid-19 law would in principle allow the model of compensation for loss of cultural workers envisaged by the canton of Zurich,” explains the BAK on request.

Fehr says about this decision that she is very happy that things are moving forward on this matter. The Federal Office of Culture has so far listened too little to the urban cantons. She is happy that the legal back and forth has now been decided.

Despite this panning from Bern, Fehr cannot implement her idea immediately. The Federal Council would now have to adapt the corresponding ordinance, which it – writes SRF.ch – could do without involving Parliament. “Whether the Federal Council changes the ordinance is a political decision,” writes the BAK. Fehr himself is optimistic: she expects the Federal Council to pick up this ball and offer a hand for a solution.


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