Nova Scotia film tax credit deadline doesn't change as budget passes

Changes to the province's film tax credit program are a done deal with the passing of the provincial budget.

Premier is confident NSBI will be ready for the July 1 implementation date of the new $10M production fund

About 200 people rallied at the legislature on Monday to push for a last-minute amendment to the Financial Measures Act, which is scheduled to be passed soon. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Changes to the province's film tax credit program are a done deal with the passing of the provincial budget.

Nova Scotia's film and television industry wanted the provincial government to back off its July 1 implementation date for a new $10 million production fund that replaces a $24 million film tax credit, but the province refused to move the date and the change became official with the budget passing Monday evening.

Earlier Monday, police said about 200 people rallied at the legislature to push for a last-minute amendment to the Financial Measures Act.

Every province with a film tax credit program is making changes to their programs, said Premier Stephen McNeil in a scrum Monday afternoon.

"They're questioning the benefits to the citizens of their respective provinces," he said.

McNeil said he could not provide details that would back up the province's reason for changing the program. He said while the finance department has the numbers to back up the province's stance, because of privacy reasons, it couldn't provide specific details about how much was paid to individual producers and what the economic impact for the province was.

"We know the benefit to the province. And quite frankly, we don't believe it's there," he said.

Marc Almon, the chair of Screen Nova Scotia, said with the program change, the industry still doesn't know the details of the fund and how it will actually work.

"We don't know what the new program is going to look like. I think that government itself is struggling to try to come up with these new regulations," he said. 

Almon said the confusion is causing havoc for the industry during its busiest time of the year. The film industry is gearing up for summer productions.

'Unworkable' deadline

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives were hoping for the implementation date to be extended to March 31, 2016.

Tory Leader Jamie Baillie said the current deadline isn't practical with the 3,000 jobs he said are at stake.

"The July 1 deadline is unworkable," he said.

McNeil is confident Nova Scotia Business Inc.— the agency that will handle the new production fund — will be ready in time.​

With files from The Canadian Press

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