Nova Scotia wants the money that comes from tourism. One great way to show off Nova Scotia is to shoot films and TV series in the province.
The good news for the province is that the films and TV people are already there. The bad news is that Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil tabled a budget measure that effectively kills the tax credit that created a thriving film and TV industry.
"Trailer Park Boys," "The Book of Negroes," and "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" are some of the series shot in Nova Scotia.
The existing refundable tax credit is a basic rebate on 50% of qualifying labor costs with an extra 10% if the production is outside the Halifax area. Under the new rules, the power of that tax credit is reduced by 75%.
During the last provincial election campaign in October 2013, McNeil announced a 5-year extension of the tax credit.
The timing of the policy change is even worse with the falling Canadian dollar. U.S. productions are much more likely to go to Canada, especially in an established scene such as Nova Scotia.
Yes, production houses and personnel could jump to British Columbia or Ontario or stay in the Maritimes in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador. But they aren't as prominent because Nova Scotia is more accessible than the other Maritime provinces.
Saskatchewan cut its tax credit in a similar fashion and that province's film/TV industry dried up.
People can debate the advantages of tax credits, but in a region where good jobs are way too scarce, a strong film/TV industry creates jobs in lots of outside sectors from construction to restaurants.
Discussions have already started between the film and TV industries and the government. The new laws don't take effect until July, so there is time for a compromise.
The other maritime provinces would love to have what Nova Scotia has. If Nova Scotia loses this, getting it back in its current form would be a mighty task. Having what was considered a guarantee from the current Liberal government ensured the consistency that allowed the film and TV industries to thrive. Without that trust, the industries can't be nearly as successful.
The Maritimes are a really beautiful place. Others should get the same opportunity to see that beauty, even if on television or in a film.