Tories put spotlight on film industry tax credits

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Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives would shine a spotlight on the local film and video production industry, promising $25-million more in tax credits over four years, if elected for a second act.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/08/2019 (1088 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives would shine a spotlight on the local film and video production industry, promising $25-million more in tax credits over four years, if elected for a second act.

PC Leader Brian Pallister made the announcement Tuesday from a basketball court set up in Bell MTS Place, part of the set of a film being shot in Winnipeg titled Sudden Death 2.

The movie was described by industry insiders as being like “Diehard 2, set in a stadium,” with martial arts and basketball components. (It is also the sequel to the 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie, in which his character battled terrorists at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.)

JESSICA BOTELHO-URBANSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS PC leader Brian Pallister announced a re-elected Tory government would invest an additional $25 million over four years in the provincial film tax credit.

“Manitoba’s film and video production industry is thriving and our skilled workforce is proof positive that Manitobans can make big dreams happen right here in Manitoba,” Pallister said. “So now we’re going to move it forward by growing even bigger dreams.”

The PCs said they would also commit $1.5 million over five years for training and education opportunities for local film industry workers — a move encouraged by Dan Donahue, the Tory-appointed chairman of the Manitoba Film and Music board.

“I think when you see that kind of a vote of confidence coming from your key stakeholder, I think it really sends a tremendous message,” Donahue said. “There’s so many things you can’t control — exchange rates, protectionism… But what I really liked about what (Pallister) said was the need to really grow our own indigenous industry.”

According to the Tories, the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit currently generates about $90 million in tax revenue annually, and has an estimated five-year gross domestic product impact of nearly a half-billion dollars.

The province currently budgets about $31.5 million a year for the tax credit, which partially refunds productions for money spent in Manitoba.

Earlier this year, the Pallister government announced the program would be made permanent. It previously had a sunset clause that would have expired in 2019.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said his party, too, is supportive of the film tax credit, and lobbied for it to be retained in successive pre-budget meetings with Tory finance ministers.

However, he wondered how Pallister could justify cuts to health care, including a loss of funding for physiotherapy services, while making a series of campaign announcements that would boost government spending in other areas.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the PC announcement was “too little too late.”

“They’ve done nothing for three years, and now they say they want to do things, so I have to be skeptical about whether they’re going to follow through on any of it,” he said.

The Liberals announced their arts and culture plan earlier this month, which included earmarking 2.5 per cent of infrastructure spending for cultural infrastructure.

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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