As part of the provincial budget address, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the termination of the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit program. This decision leaves Saskatchewan as the only province in Canada without the tools in which to effectively compete nationally and internationally for film and television production. The Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association (SMPIA) believes this decision was based on poor information provided to the government.
“Governments generally make good decisions,” says Ron Goetz, President – Partners In Motion and President of SMPIA, “but their decisions are only as good as the information they receive and we feel they were misinformed about the strength of the tax credit system prior to making this cut.”
Created in 1989 by the Devine government, SaskFilm was a response to a need identified by SMPIA and its industry members to ensure that the province was represented as a region in which to undertake production of both cultural and economically driven production. Following extensive consultation and comparative analysis, in 1992, the provincial government announced the creation of the Film Employment Tax Credit which provided an incentive for employment of Saskatchewan residents and a tool to attract inward investment.
Long seen as a catalyst for the creation of cultural employment and inward investment, the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit was integral in the development and production of series such as Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairies. Stars such as Charlize Theron (Monster), Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) and Corbin Bernsen (LA Law) and Saskatchewan’s own Kim Coats (Resident Evil, Sons of Anarchy) praised the province of Saskatchewan on late night television as a place to be and to film.
“Quite frankly, without the tax incentive program the province will be seen as an irrelevant location and production will not take place,” says Vanessa Bonk, Executive Director of SMPIA. “The production volumes of over $623 million since inception resulted in an immense amount of inward investment of, on average 74%, and considerable employment, which will all cease to exist. Should the government proceed with this decision, rebuilding to provide both cultural and economic impacts is unimaginable.”
Included in the many benefits the industry communicates itself as providing, is the impact that film and television brings to related cultural industries including theatre, music and publishing. Without a strong and vibrant film and television industry, impacts will be surely be felt within the other creative industries.
Despite overcoming geographic obstacles, the industry presented itself as a business partner to a global audience and undertook international co-productions with countries such as, but not limited to, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and China and provided an environment in which the Canadian broadcasters could provide programming to a national audience. The announcement today by the Wall government will ensure that Saskatchewan is no longer provided this opportunity.
“This announcement will trigger a complete out-migration of talent from the province of Saskatchewan,” says Goetz. “As the Chair of the Film Task Force, I grieve the decision made today and need to emphasis the grave impact that this decision will have on the industry and on the provinces ability to deliver on the cultural policy that it implemented only a short two years ago. I hope we are able to work with this government to correct this error.”