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Alberta film industry benefitting from targeted public investment

Posted on May 4, 2023 by Ryan Dahlman

By Trevor Busch

Commentator/Courier

editor@tabertimes.com

Alberta’s film and television industry continues to grow and attract productions hoping to take advantage of the province’s many stunning vistas, and as part of that momentum the provincial government is contributing more to help the industry succeed.

In 2020, the UCP launched the Film and Television Tax Credit, designed to help the province’s film and television industry grow in size and reputation. Since then, Alberta has attracted 129 productions with a total production value of $1.7 billion, resulting in approximately 9,000 direct and indirect jobs.

One year after the tax credit was launched, the cap was raised, resulting in a doubling of the province’s film and television sector. And more recently, the provincial government announced it is increasing its investment to a total of $335 million over three years to continue attracting the attention and investment dollars of Hollywood.

“Do I think it is going to grow? For sure,” said Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter. “We had probably the biggest growth in that sector. We’ve got a beautiful province, and those companies those Hollywood companies can make money here, they can actually make it work. So that’s why they come,  the competitive cost is lower here. That’s that Alberta advantage we’re seeing in all sectors. People say, ‘Oh, it’s just for the oil and gas.’ That’s not true. It actually affects a lot of different sectors as well. And TV, and the movie industry is booming here right now, because of that.”

As the province’s film and television industry grows, so does the quality and number of Alberta-made productions. To help grow and promote local talent and productions, the province is also doubling the funding to the Alberta Made Screen Industries Program to support local producers and attract productions from around the world to set up shop in Alberta.

Hunter explained why the UCP felt the time was right to make a strategic investment into the province’s expanding film and television industry. 

“What we did is we took a look at other jurisdictions and what they were doing and how we can be competitive with them. And we recognized that we needed to have that strategic investment. And so that’s why we’ve done that, and we’ve done that with a few different industries as well – the petrochemical industry we’ve we’ve been strategic in terms of what we’re doing, even the agri-food processing corridor, announcing the 12 per cent tax incentive for companies coming. So, we were trying to be competitive. At the end of the day, you want to be competitive with other jurisdictions.”

According to Statistics Canada data, every $1 million of production activity in the screen-based production sector creates about 13 Alberta jobs, an every $1 million of government investment under the Film and Television Tax Credit program is expected to support about 85 Alberta jobs.

Hunter focused on how low taxes and a lower regulatory burden contribute to making Alberta a highly attractive jurisdiction for many investors.

“Really the Alberta strategy has always been a broad-based approach to lower taxes, lower regulatory burden – get in here, whoever you are, wherever you are, because we don’t really know, right? You can pick and choose – and jurisdictions do pick and choose throughout the world if they’re going to say yes or no in terms of programming and so forth. But in our situation, we’ve tried to just have a low corporate tax rate or lower marginal tax rate, and then lower regulatory burden so that people can come in, they can get their money working for them.”

Alberta’s film and television production workforce has grown 71 per cent from 2017, or by about 4,000 workers across all positions.

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