Nova Scotia

SIM Group blames changes to N.S. film tax credit for Halifax closure

SIM Group, a company that provides film production support in Nova Scotia, is pulling out of the province and puts the blame on the changes made to the film tax credit.

Company provides production support, cameras, lighting equipment and other gear to film productions

Marc Almon, chair of Screen Nova Scotia, says the closing of SIM Group's offices in Halifax is a devastating blow to the industry. (CBC)

A company that provides production support, cameras, lighting equipment and other gear to film productions in Nova Scotia is pulling out of the province and puts the blame on the changes made to the film tax credit.

The SIM Group is based out of Toronto, but has satellite facilities called SIM Digital and PS Production Services in Halifax.

Six full-time positions will be affected.

Company COO John DeBoer said changes to the tax credit have led to a decline in film and television production in the province, left the future of the industry in that region uncertain, and caused some companies and individuals to leave.

"Toronto is having a booming year. Vancouver is having a phenomenal year. Halifax is having the worst year it's ever had," he said.

DeBoer says the company was in the process of renegotiating its lease when Nova Scotia switched from the film tax credit to the incentive program.

"It started to slow down and we started to not see anything in the future," he said. "That was when we started to monitor what was coming in and there's just nothing coming in."

The company says they will continue to support any film productions they can from the Toronto headquarters.

A devastating blow

News of the decision is being called a devastating blow by the chair of Screen Nova Scotia.

In a release, Marc Almon called the companies cornerstones of the screen industry and has requested an emergency meeting with Premier Stephen McNeil.

In June, a cost-conscious Liberal government eliminated the $24 million film tax credit, which rebated up to 50 per cent of labour costs. It was replaced with a $10 million fund that allows producers to claim up to 25 per cent of all production costs.

The Liberal government has put a provincial Crown corporation in charge of the downsized film incentive program.

Almon says his group will continue to work with the province as the new Film Incentive Fund is implemented, but more needs to be done now.

"We really are calling on the government to help us to change the conversation and get people thinking that this is a place that they can do something great," he said.

Screen Nova Scotia says they sent a letter to the premier Thursday afternoon and stand ready to meet with him "at a moment's notice."

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