MONTREAL -- Around 60 contract workers at Cirque du Soleil claim they haven’t been paid for services provided before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, totalling nearly $1 million in unpaid bills. 

In an open letter to the media on Wednesday, the Regroupement des Artisans des Arts du Cirque (RAAC) estimates that the average unpaid bill stands at around $16,000. For several of the artists, that number represents a significant portion of their yearly income. 

According to the RAAC's letter, the self-employed workers are acrobats, directors, scenographers, choreographers, technical or artistic directors as well as numerous technicians. 

“More than 50 per cent of the artists we represent have worked at Cirque du Soleil for more than 10 years, and for nearly 75 per cent of them, Cirque du Soleil is their main client,” RAAC says. 

Letters have also been sent to elected officials, including the Minister of Economic Development, Pierre Fitzgibbon, since the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has shares in the business. 

The artists want their request to be heard “and to obtain a commitment from (Cirque du Soleil) regarding the payment of these claims,” the letter reads. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2020.