Saskatchewan·Sask Budget 2022

Sask. boosts grant program for film and television by $8M

The influx of an additional $8 million comes a decade after the Saskatchewan government slashed its film tax credit.

Creative Saskatchewan Production Grant Program will total $10M

The Government of Saskatchewan is renaming the Regina Sound Stage after John Hopkins, the former CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. The facility will now be known as the John Hopkins Regina Sound Stage. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC News)

Saskatchewan is boosting its grant program for film and television by $8 million in its 2022-23 budget. 

That means the Production Grant Program — operated through Crown corporation Creative Saskatchewan — will have $10 million available for the 2022-23 fiscal year. 

The goal, according to Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Laura Ross, is to attract more and larger projects to Saskatchewan. 

"With the significant rise in streaming services rapidly developing content, we are seeing a real opportunity to help Saskatchewan businesses take advantage of this demand," Ross said.

A decade later

The news comes 10 years after the Saskatchewan government slashed the province's film tax credit. 

That tax credit helped bring major projects to be produced and shot in Saskatchewan, including Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie.

A study conducted by the SaskFilm and the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce found that from 1998 to 2012, the film industry generated a total of $514.6 million of economic activity after government expenses.

That works out to $36.7 million in annual economic activity from 1998 to 2012.

After the tax credit was slashed by the government, the province saw its film industry dry up. 

A report from 2020 by Statistics Canada showed that the operating revenue generated by film, television and video productions in Saskatchewan in 2007 was $42.2 million.

Ten years later in 2017, operating revenue had fallen to $21.3 million. 

By 2019 it had fallen to $17.2 million.

NDP critic says funding a half measure 

The Official Opposition's finance critic welcomed the boost in funding to the grant program, but characterized it as a "half-measure."

"It may not place us in a competitive position as we will need to be with Manitoba and Alberta," Trent Wotherspoon said. 

He said in the decade since the tax credit was slashed, the province's film industry has been devastated. 

Trent Wotherspoon and Ryan Meili respond to the 2022 Saskatchewan Budget on March 23, 2022. (Moreen Mugerwa/CBC)

Wotherspoon added that the decision drove investment and industry leaders away from the province. 

"This has cost Saskatchewan people, our economy, a sector that could have been providing hundreds of millions of dollars annually and providing those jobs and opportunities," he said. 

The grant is only available for Saskatchewan labour, goods and services, which will help keep the money in the province. 

The influx of cash into the program will also provide an unspecified boost to employment in Saskatchewan's film and television production sectors, the province's IT and digital industries and an increase in spending in the hospitality industry, the Saskatchewan government said. 

In anticipation of more activity at the Regina Sound Stage, the government announced it will be renaming the facility after John Hopkins, the longtime CEO of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce. 

Hopkins died earlier this year after a battle with prostate cancer. 

The facility will now be known as the John Hopkins Regina Sound Stage.

The 2022-23 Saskatchewan budget has revealed the province will put an additional $8 million into the Creative Saskatchewan Production Grant Program, bringing the total to $10 million.

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said the prospect of getting the film industry back in Regina is "fantastic news."

"I realize it's for the whole province, but we do have the sound stage here and to utilize that asset will be fantastic," she said. 

"I just think it couldn't have been timed better."

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said that she hoped to see a Hallmark movie be filmed in Saskatchewan through the new investment. 

"They spit them out, like an incredible amount of films. I swear my daughter watches all of them — somehow. So I want to see a Hallmark film filmed in Saskatchewan," Harpauer said. 

The province says that application window for the 2022-23 Creative Saskatchewan Production Grant will open later this spring.

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