Economy | Tax breaks for industry
The Save B.C. Film campaign has dominated headlines in recent months. The industry has printed up bumper stickers, staged rallies and garnered more than 15,000 signatures on a petition calling for the province to step in.
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The $1-billion B.C. industry has shown little growth over the last few years, and for the first time in nearly a decade, B.C. has fallen behind Ontario in the North American production centre rankings. Those behind the campaign say the local film industry is facing imminent collapse if action isn’t taken.
Industry leaders have called on the provincial government to make policy changes so B.C. can be more competitive. The B.C. film tax credit is currently set at 33 per cent of labour costs, while Ontario and Quebec grant a 25 per cent tax credit on all production costs, including labour. The industry argues Ontario’s advantage has grown to about 10 per cent since B.C. returned to the PST in April.
Industry workers have also called for the creation of a separate provincial ministry to deal with the creative sector. Those in the industry admit the tax credits offered in Quebec and Ontario aren’t sustainable, but say B.C. needs to step in with temporary measures in order to stay competitive.
The Liberals have pledged to introduce a new policy for the film industry within the next few weeks, but would not commit to the tax changes the industry is asking for. The Liberals have said the current $285-million a year in tax breaks is generous enough, and B.C. isn’t interested in joining Ontario’s "race to the bottom" when it comes to handing out more subsidies to film and TV producers.
The Liberals have also pointed to the $11 million the government spent bringing the Times of India Film Awards, which honours excellence in Hindi language films, to Vancouver.
The New Democrats, meanwhile, say they will increase tax credits for the film industry to 40 per cent, at a cost of $45 million a year.
NDP Leader Adrian Dix has travelled to Los Angeles to meet with studios, producers and filmmakers in an attempt to determine how to restore B.C. as a thriving film production centre.