Unions release report with recommendations for screen funding
For Immediate Release
February 11, 2020
CALGARY - A new Alberta of Federation of Labour (AFL) report reveals why the UCP government’s new Film and Television Tax Credit program falls short, with its annual cap and use of juries, and will put the Alberta screen industry at risk.
The AFL’s report, Time to Get Rolling: Growing the Screen Industry in Alberta, is a jurisdictional scan and review of the screen industry’s impact providing clear evidence that Alberta is out of step with other jurisdictions, currently not attracting productions at the level it could be and has launched a tax credit program that will harm the industry and cost jobs.
While a tax credit for labour and production is welcome, the fact that the funding is capped will damage Alberta’s industry for many reasons: firstly, it’s a cut, a significant 67% cut for new funding available for 2020, secondly, capped incentives won’t attract big Hollywood film budgets and thirdly, it causes uncertainty whether productions will qualify depending on the government’s timelines.
Alberta must also move their tax-based funding program away from the use of juries, selecting which projects receiving tax credits and which do not – picking winners and losers. There is also one ineligibility criteria of “a production for which financial support would, in the opinion of the Minister, be contrary to public policy,” that is very concerning, given the current government.
“The annual cap and use of juries will negate any benefits the switch from a grant system to a tax-credit system has, and create uncertainty for investors who will simply choose other locations that have a true tax-based funding system,” says Gil McGowan, AFL president. “To understand the screen industry is to understand that labour-based tax incentives without caps are necessary.”
“An ideal tax credit system should focus on incentivizing job creation for Albertans by rewarding production companies who hire Alberta residents,” says McGowan. “Labour-based tax credit systems have had great success in other jurisdictions to ensure that residents are receiving the majority of economic gains from government investments and therefore supporting their local economies."
In 2017/18 the total volume of film and television production in Alberta was $255 million, while B.C.’s was $3.5 billion and Ontario’s was $2.8 billion, both of which have labour-based, uncapped tax incentives.
“Research has shown that for every $1 Alberta invested in the screen industry, $3.50 returned to the Alberta economy,” says McGowan. “We have the locations. We have the crews. We have a great reputation. What we need is a government that understands the business and provides the proper incentives. The screen industry provides a prime opportunity to not only diversify but grow Alberta’s economy by providing quality jobs for Albertans.”
Read the full report.
Director of Communications, AFL