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Tax credits revisited for Canadian filmmakers

Filmmaker Paul Donovan once compared the difficulty of making a movie in Canada to climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. Faced with an indifferent public, harsh critics, limited funds, and foreign-owned movie houses, filmmaking in Canada is, by necessity, a labour of love. Canadian gems like The Barbarian Invasions and Nobody Waved Goodbye have succeeded because of steadfast determination. CBC Archives explores the birth and growth of Canada's film industry.

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Who benefits from Canada's tax breaks? Certainly not Canadians, argue filmmakers and distributors represented by the Feature Film Advisory Committee. The committee argues that Hollywood productions who film on location north of the border reap the most rewards. Instead, they argue, tax breaks should only be available to Canadian films. And they suggest that it's time to revisit the long-forgotten notion of taxing imported movies -- the bulk of which are American -- to Canada. It's time, they say in this CBC Radio news report, for Canada to re-invest in Canadian cinema.
• In 1997, the federal government introduced the Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit. The tax credit is equal to 16 per cent of salary and wages paid to Canadian residents or taxable Canadian corporations.

• In February 1998, the Department of Heritage called for an appraisal of the state of Canada's feature film industry. The Feature Film Advisory Committee featured representatives from the Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada, the Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters, the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, and l'Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec.

• The Advisory Committee also recommended an increase in Canadian films' share of screen time from 2 per cent to 10 per cent. They also proposed a creation of a new feature film fund. While the tax credit issue remains a point of contention for some Canadian filmmakers, Canadian Heritage did introduce the Feature Film Fund in 2001. The Feature Film Fund aims to boost production, development and promotion resources for Canadian films.

• Canada has proved to be a formidable stand-in for American movies and many Canadian tradespeople (camera operators, production assistants, actors, etc.) have benefited from this phenomenon. Canadian Business reports that in 2002, foreign film and television projects, series, mini-series and movies-of-the-week spent more than $1.76 billion filming in Canada. The majority of those productions were American-financed.

• Broken down, Vancouver was Canada's leading production hub, earning $857 million, or 51 per cent. Toronto and Montreal round out the top three, and made $561 million (33 per cent) and $215 million (10 per cent) respectively.
Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: Jan. 21, 1999
Guest(s): Perrin Beatty, Sheila Copps, Allan King, Richard Paradis, Denise Robert
Host: Barbara Smith
Reporter: Brian K. Smith
Duration: 2:36

Last updated: August 29, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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