Quebec politicians unite behind streamer tax

Members of the province's legislature have voted unanimously for a motion that would see foreign SVODs pay provincial sales tax.
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Less than a week since Heritage Canada’s Creative Canada policy was unveiled, without a provision to tax foreign streamers, Quebec’s political parties have passed a motion to begin taxing online services such as Netflix and Amazon at the provincial level.

On Tuesday at the National Assembly of Quebec, members of the legislature banded together to vote unanimously for a motion to require digital content providers be legally required to pay provincial sales tax.

In session, Quebec finance minister Carlos Leitao argued the issue was a matter of tax fairness for all Canadian companies, not just those in Quebec. Leitao also said that Netflix qualified as a taxable service in the province but that Quebec would require the cooperation of both Netflix and the federal government if it were to impose such a tax. Details on how exactly Quebec would move to take Netflix and other streaming services were not presented and Leitao said in his arguments that the province needed more details on the Netflix-Canada agreement before it moved further on imposing a tax.

However, Leitao also pointed to the agreements that Quebec had come to with businesses such as Airbnb and Uber in securing tax contributions from those two companies.

Last Thursday, the Canadian government’s announcement that Netflix would invest $500 million over five years in original productions in Canada was met with a range of responses from the domestic industry, from excitement over new money to concern over how it would be spent.

Among those responses was that of Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau, who opposed the move. “Make no mistake: the government’s approach will lead, logically and inevitably, to domination of Canada’s broadcasting ecosystem by U.S. giants. The public broadcaster will be the only remaining domestic player, as the private broadcasters’ manoeuvring room will have been wiped out. Ultimately, local producers, artists, cultural workers and audiences will be the losers,” he said in a statement.