Shocked industry urges Saskatchewan to reverse film tax credit cut

Kim Coates-small

After the shock of last week’s decision by the Saskatchewan government to cancel its film tax credit, the province’s film and TV production sector has gone into survival mode.

The grassroots Save the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit (SFETC) campaign has its own Facebook page, and has invited the media Monday afternoon to the Evan Hardy High School and its media program in Saskatoon to witness the impact on young people eyeing a future local career.

Actor Kim Coates (pictured), a University of Saskatchewan alumni, will speak to the rally via Skype from Los Angeles where he’s shooting Sons of Anarchy, and will be joined in Saskatoon by fellow actors Kristina Hughes, Anita Smith and Josh Beaudy, producer Anand Ramayya of KarmaFilm, and directors Torin Stefanson and Trever Cameron.

The lobby effort to get the Saskatchewan government reverse course on the film tax credit ahead of a vote on provincial budget this Thursday comes as local businesses continue to express anger and disbelief over the cost-cutting decision.

“I am completely shocked and outraged at the short-sighted actions of the Saskatchewan provincial government and especially finance minister Krawetz,” Paul Bronfman, chairman & CEO of Comweb Corp., which has had presence in Saskatoon with its William F. White International production equipment rental business since 1995, said Friday in a statement.

“The tax credits are working and there is no viable reason why this should occur.  It defies all economic logic in my opinion,” he added.

After servicing local shoots like Little Mosque on the Prairie and, WFW risks having to close its doors in Saskatoon if a film tax credit is not retained.

“We have tried to build our Saskatchewan operation for many years and are now faced with having to evaluate our existing facility in Regina. If business conditions deteriorate any further, we will have no choice but to shut down operations immediately,” Bronfman argued, urging the government to reconsider its tax credit decision.

Norm Bolen, president and CEO of the Canadian Media Production Association, representing major indie producers, echoed the fear that phasing out the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit threatened to undo a generation of industry-building in the province.

“Eliminating the SFETC without introducing an alternate incentive jeopardizes over 15 years of hard work to build the province’s independent production sector into an international success story,” Bolen said.