PEI Votes

P.E.I. parties commit to film industry support

P.E.I. Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are pledging government support for the film industry, just as Nova Scotia is questioning a decision to cut support there.

Government support necessary to compete, filmmakers argue

Government incentives are necessary for the industry to grow, says Island Media Arts Co-operative president Nils Ling. (Laura Chapin/CBC)

P.E.I. Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats are pledging government support for the film industry, just as Nova Scotia is questioning a decision to cut support there.

There are all of those skilled technicians over there, so there could be incentive to bring them over to this province.- filmmaker Jenna MacMillan

The NDP were first to announce support for a labour tax credit after the Nova Scotia government axed its program in the provincial budget. The Tories were quick to follow. The Liberals say they are still rolling out their platform.

The Green Party says it supports the development of a film and video tax credit. Its program would compel companies from other locations to use local actors and crew in the production. The party says this is working in both Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba to create local jobs in the film in television industry.

P.E.I. cancelled its own program a decade ago. Nils Ling, president of the Island Media Arts Co-operative, told CBC News the industry has still accomplished a lot, including winning Emmy and Gemini awards, but he said far fewer productions have been made on P.E.I. since support was cut.

"We've had some wonderful things happen in the industry and we want that to continue to grow," said Ling.

Now may be a good time to attract skilled film industry workers to the province, says P.E.I. filmmaker Jenna MacMillan. (Laura Chapin/CBC)

"That can only happen, really can only happen, if we have a sustainable incentive program here on the Island."

Many jurisdictions in North America, including Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador, offer incentives to attract filmmakers. Maritime filmmakers argue incentives are necessary to compete.

Ling said bringing more of this business to P.E.I. would offer considerable economic spinoffs, including skilled jobs and a possible increase in tourism.

Nova Scotia is already reconsidering its decision to axe its incentive program. Island filmmaker Jenna MacMillan is concerned two projects she hopes to shoot in the next six months could be in jeopardy if the decision is not reversed. She relies on skilled technicians from that province.

MacMillan said that's another reason a new P.E.I. incentive program could be well-timed.

"There are all of those skilled technicians over there, so there could be incentive to bring them over to this province," she said.

MacMillan worries if there are little to no incentives in the Maritimes, many in the industry will move away to provinces like Ontario and Newfoundland.

For mobile device users: Should the P.E.I. government provide support for the film industry?

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