Film producers outraged over tax credit cut
New Brunswick's independent film producers are warning Premier David Alward's budget is jeopardizing the future of the province's multi-million dollar industry.
Finance Minister Blaine Higgs announced on Tuesday the New Brunswick Film Tax Credit will be terminated.
Maurice Aubin, the director and producer with Mozus Productions in Moncton and president of New Brunswick's Film Producers' Association, said the reverberations of the budget announcement will be felt for years to come.
Aubin said every province has a film tax credit and without it there's no way to continue.
"All the producers I've spoken to now have all said well this basically means this is the end of my company in New Brunswick," Aubin said.
"If I'm going to be interested in continuing to work in film or television or media business, New Brunswick's not the place to be."
Aubin argues about $7 is generated for every dollar the provincial government puts into the film industry.
The New Brunswick Producers Association will hold its annual meeting on April 8 in Fredericton and will try to convince the provincial government to reverse the decision.
If the Alward government continues with its plans to scrap the tax credit, it will be difficult for the industry to survive and keep its skilled workers, the association's president said.
"All this brain trust, these years of knowledge, years of production, writing, editing, you name it, they're all specialized work," Aubin said.
"That's all going to be gone to other places. We're basically draining the brains of the production industry in New Brunswick."
Film companies may close
The tax credit cost the provincial government $2.7 million last year down from a high of $4.4 million in 2008-09.
The New Brunswick government had offered companies a maximum of 40 per cent of salaries paid to New Brunswick residents as a way to encourage the industry.
The provincial government bumped up the tax credit by an extra 10 per cent if the film projects were done in rural New Brunswick.
The Alward government dropped the provincial deficit to $448 million in Tuesday's budget. In that process, however, the budget halted planned tax cuts, hiked other taxes and cut many services and programs.
Higgs said many painful choices are still in the offing. But, the finance minister said the decisions are necessary to correct the province's precarious financial state.
While eliminating the film tax credit may be a pillar in putting the province's fiscal house back in order, it could end up closing some companies.
Greg Hemmings of Hemmings House Pictures in Saint John said he has already incorporated a new company in Nova Scotia where he'll move the film and television production portion of his business.
He said the Alward government's decision will lead to a massive exodus of educated young people.
"My company alone employs 10 full time technicians under the age of 35. All of which would have been in Halifax or Toronto if my company wasn't here to employ them," Hemmings said.