The producer of the CBC television comedy InSecurity said the elimination of a film and television tax credit by the Saskatchewan government means the program will not shoot new episodes in the province, if the show is picked up for another season.
"Should Insecurity, season three, be renewed ... we have to consider moving the series to another province," Virginia Thompson of Vérité Films told CBC News Wednesday. The show is shot on locations and stages in Regina and Ottawa.
'We're generating money and it doesn't seem that's been understood.'—Virginia Thompson, television producer
The provincial budget, released earlier in the day, eliminated a tax credit that the government said was costing around $8 million a year.
"I'm kind of shocked," Thompson, whose company also produced the CTV comedy Corner Gas in Saskatchewan, said.
"I can't begin to tell you how difficult this is to comprehend," Thompson said about the government's decision.
According to Thompson producers used the tax credit to create jobs.
"We're not taking money from the province, we're generating money and it doesn't seem that's been understood," she said.
"I don't think that the government has completely figured out, I guess, the revenue side of the equation," Thompson said.
Using her own production work as an example, Thompson claimed that a $1 million expenditure by the government would generate $4.5 million in spending related to a show. Most of that money, she said, would be spent on Saskatchewan labour.
"That's a good investment," Thompson said. "So I just don't think this is being completely thought through from an economic point of view."
Government saw no growth
Bill Hutchinson, the province's minister responsible for culture, said eliminating the tax credit was a difficult thing to do.
"It affects real people in Saskatchewan," he said, noting that more than $100 million had been spent on the credit in the last 14 years, but the film and television industry was not growing.
"It went down 18 per cent in the last year alone," Hutchinson said. He said an industry task force that looked at the state of film and television production concluded the only way to improve the outlook was to spend more on the tax credit.
"But we don't think its sustainable," Hutchinson said. "And that's why we took that difficult decision to discontinue this particular program."
Thompson conceded the industry may not have grown significantly, but she said that may be related to a recent overall decline in the production business.
"It's like being a farmer. You have a good year, you have a bad year," she said. Thompson also claimed that the Saskatchewan tax credit was, in the past, better than those offered in other jurisdictions, which helped lure productions to the province.
"With this decision, this truly is the end of the film and television industry in Saskatchewan," Thompson said. "Because the reality is that every other province is supporting it and therefore projects will have to go [elsewhere]."
Thompson said producers will seek out jurisdictions that have subsidies.
Ron Goetz, president of the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association, said the end of the credit is a death blow to the industry.
"When you lose the tax credit, you will lose your industry," Goetz said Wednesday. "I think the producers have spoken and said 'This is the end of our industry' and I don't think they're exaggerating."
Thompson said her company will not return with projects.
"I guess we're out of business in Saskatchewan," she said.