BC Film – the Tax Dilemma…we started it

For those of you who don’t know me I have been an actor in Vancouver for 26 years. In the summer of 2011 I had no auditions. None. Which was unusual. I went online and googled the Toronto film list and saw that 28 shows were shooting there and 8 were shooting here. A few weeks later I ran for the board of UBCP/Actra and was elected.

I write this, not as a member of the board but as an actor and a tax paying resident of BC. I was so inspired to be a part of the the town hall and so impressed that we on the “laid back” West Coast finally got our act together and showed up in droves. I heard loud and clear that MPPIA encourages one voice and supports the view that we just need to be competitive with Ontario and not necessarily match their tax credits. I respectfully disagree.

Now let me preface this by saying, I am no genius. I am not a business person. I am just an actor. But I do have a pretty level head and common sense. It seems to me that the only real way to find stability with this industry, both here and in the East is to always match each other’s tax credits. If our government has a blanket commitment to always match Ontario and Quebec – no matter what – then there is no incentive to ever try to undercut one another ever. I believe, were we to do that, the first thing Ontario and Quebec would do in their next budgets would be to raise their all in tax credits to 20% or 17% or perhaps they would take on our 33% labour credit instead. That would certainly help the troubled Ontario and Quebec economies. It would also offer stability to the producers who would be clear about the incentives in Canada, wherever they want to shoot.

Toronto has seen its fair share of bad times too. We were the ones who started the tax credit competition in the late 90’s. It is time to rethink our approach nationally to the benefit of all our brothers and sisters in all the unions in this Industry. We have had our taste of their bad times so let’s call it a draw and figure out something that works for us all.

We have a unique advantage being in Canada. We have awesome, world class crews, our actors look and sound like Americans and we have a separate global economy. Why don’t we get a plan together and compete with the American jurisdictions for this very lucrative industry.

I would like nothing better than to work in Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax. But right now not being a resident of the province offering the credit causes problems. I can’t work there. I don’t qualify for the credit as a non-resident. Perhaps also with this blanket commitment to match all tax credits, we would expand this new plan to include applying the tax credits to all Canadian workers, not just the provincial ones.

It is time to get smart and get a plan that works for all parts of the country and works for a long time to come. Incremental changes to tax credits are short term solutions brought in by governments that change every few years. If we could get our provincial ministers to agree to one tax credit across the country, I believe in the long run that would benefit all Canadians.

We need bold leadership and foresight to allow this Industry flourish across the country.

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