Loss of N.B. tax credit drives out film company
One of New Brunswick's leading film and television producers is pulling up stakes and moving to Nova Scotia after losing an industry tax credit in the latest provincial budget.
Frank Savoie, who runs Connections Productions in Moncton, said the elimination of the credit is jeopardizing the future of New Brunswick's multi-million-dollar industry.
"One line in a 40-page budget," Savoie said Monday. "No preamble — film tax credit cut. A, a slap in the face. B, we're going to Halifax."
Savoie, who has been working in Moncton since 1992, produces a variety of projects, from documentaries in English to country music shows in French.
Brought money to N.B.
He said he understands the New Brunswick government is in dire financial straits, but it doesn't make sense to cut an incentive for an industry that brings in millions of dollars.
"The sad part is that without having a tax credit there is no industry, and no industry in New Brunswick makes it very sad," Savoie said.
"Alberta cut theirs in 1998, tried to bring it back again five years later and it's a skeleton of what it was because all of the people moved to B.C., Toronto, Saskatchewan," Savoie said. "Saskatchewan is huge, Manitoba's huge, Nova Scotia's huge. Why couldn't they see it? It's sad."
In the budget introduced last Tuesday, Premier David Alward's Progressive Conservative government lowered the provincial deficit to $448 million by cutting $220 million in spending. The budget would halt planned tax cuts, hike other taxes and cut many services and programs.
The tax credit for the film production industry cost the province $2.7 million last year, down from a high of $4.4 million in 2008-09.
As part of the incentive to the film and TV industry, New Brunswick offered companies a maximum of 40 per cent of salaries paid to New Brunswick residents. The province increased the tax credit by 10 per cent if the film projects were done in rural New Brunswick.
With the program all but gone, Mac Savoie, Frank's son, said he's considering a move as well.
"It just feels like the government doesn't want me to stay," said Savoie, who runs a post-production company called The Post Man. "They're in effect killing my whole life.
"I have two properties, I have my entire office, all my equipment — I mean we'll all have to leave and we're not given a choice or we weren't even asked how we felt about the whole thing. We weren't given a voice and that's the saddest thing."
Jonah Hache, an audio editor, said he is concerned many New Brunswick stories will no longer be told.
"We're just starting to develop ourselves right now and it seems like this cut is just going to take that away again and it's going to discourage the creativity we have left," he said.
Frank Savoie said it will take about a year for his company to complete the move, although he plans to be in Halifax in about six months. Only one of his nine staff members will be moving.