The B.C. film and television industry is struggling to retain jobs as other places, particularly Ontario, offer better tax incentives, according to a staff report presented to Vancouver city council today.
“This is important because film and television is a relatively mobile industry, so tax incentives really do matter,” said Joan Elangovan, chief executive officer for the Vancouver Economic Commission.
The B.C. film tax credit is currently 33 per cent of labour costs, while Ontario offers a 25 per cent credit on all production costs.
Ontario has surpassed B.C. in its total production spending in recent years.
“This is significant because in Vancouver we have long enjoyed the reputation as the Hollywood North,” said Ms. Elangovan. “But now Ontario has overtaken B.C.”
B.C. is also struggling to compete with the U.S. While only four American states had tax incentives for the film and television industry in 2002, 40 states had introduced them by 2013.
Although the industry has a supportive community, high-calibre crews and production infrastructure, it has also struggled because of a lack of promotion and low intellectual property ownership, said Ms. Elangovan.
“Intellectual property is found in local companies,” she said. “These are companies that live here, that have families here, and they tend to stay. So the more intellectual property and domestic production we can see here could have long term implications in terms of longevity.”
More than 18,000 jobs in the film and television industry are in Metro Vancouver, with another 2,000 throughout the rest of B.C.
Although most of the tax revenues from the industry go to the federal and provincial governments, the municipal government receives approximately 12 per cent of the taxes. In addition, the film industry paid approximately $529,000 in parking fees, $780,000 in permit fees and $889,000 to the Vancouver Police Department last year.
The staff report recommended a review of the parking strategy and fees for film and television production activities.