NDP Leader Cam Broten pledged Wednesday to revive Saskatchewan's once-booming film and television industry by restoring and strengthening the Film Employment Tax Credit scrapped by Brad Wall.
“This is an industry that delivered a huge sense of pride for Saskatchewan, and it also delivered jobs, economic activity, spin-off benefits and millions of dollars directly into the province’s coffers,” said Broten. “Today, I’m saying to Saskatchewan film workers all over the world, come home – and bring your friends with you.”
In March 2012, the Sask. Party eliminated the filmmaking incentive, decimating the industry. Wall concealed his plan to attack film and television production jobs, so the cut came as a shock to thousands of film industry employees and their families.
Prior to its elimination, the incentive provided a refundable tax credit for employing people that would pay income tax in Saskatchewan. As a result of the cancellation of that credit, hundreds of Saskatchewan film professionals are working in other provinces, and the once sought-after Canada Saskatchewan Production Studios, a state-of-the-art film soundstage, rarely sees cameras anymore.
According to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, the true cost of the film tax credit was just over $1 million per year, and the net economic benefit was $44.5 million.
Broten said the new deal for filmmakers will be a 45 per cent labour-based refundable credit, plus an additional 15 per cent all-spend credit for non-labour costs incurred in Saskatchewan, including on post-production. Broten said payment schedules will ensure bridge funding and timely support is there for producers when they’re in job-creation mode, and he committed to collaborate with the film industry to ensure that labour force development programs and training incentives support the industry’s needs.
The new credit gives Saskatchewan a competitive advantage against other Canadian destinations for producers.
“We put Saskatchewan on the world’s filmmaking map once – and we’ll do it again,” said Broten. “This is a no-brainer. When productions come here, we’re going to make money as a province – it’s as simple as that. Saskatchewan needs more economic diversity, and this is a field that creates jobs for actors, digital animators, carpenters, electricians, construction workers and more.
“The Sask. Party’s choice to eliminate the film industry was short-sighted politics, and their decision to dig in their heels is stubborn, and makes no sense at all. How is that more important than creating jobs and welcoming our filmmakers home?”
The previous Film Employment Tax Credit went into effect in 1998 and attracted both American production work (Just Friends, Terry Gilliam’s Tideland) and created Canadian productions (The Englishman’s Boy, Corner Gas). Annually, there was as much as $67 million in production done in Saskatchewan.