Quebecor is calling on Québec’s political parties to make a formal pledge to maintain the predictability of the province’s Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit.
Quebecor owns the MELS soundstage facilities in Montréal, Saint-Hubert and Québec City, used for both local and foreign film and television productions. MELS also provides sound and image post production, VFX and digital distribution, among other services.
“We have been pleading our case to the Couillard government for more than a year, to no avail,” said Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and CEO of Quebecor, in a press release. “All we’re asking for is the fiscal predictability we need to be able to invest some $40 million to build new MELS studios in order to meet the needs of the producers who are knocking on our door, creating hundreds of new jobs in the process. Without such guarantees, studios such as MELS are at the mercy of shifting government policies, such as the cuts in business tax credits in 2014, that would make Québec less attractive on the highly competitive film production market. If our governments were able to extend written guarantees regarding tax credits to companies such as Ubisoft and Warner in the video game industry, why wasn’t the Liberal government able to do the same for an industry as important as film and TV production?”
Quebec’s current film production tax credit stands at 20 per cent (compared to Ontario’s 21.5 per cent incentive), with its computer animation and special effects tax credit at 16 per cent (two per cent lower than Ontario).
Twenty-three foreign films were shot in Québec last year, generating direct expenditures of $383 million, up 28.5 per cent from 2016 and 440 per cent from 2009. Québec currently accounts for just 11 per cent of foreign film productions in Canada, compared with 62 per cent for British Columbia and 23 per cent for Ontario.
Quebecor also says while investment in studio facilities is being made in other Canadian cities, the supply of film studios in Québec has remained stagnant.
The company points to Bell Media’s acquisition of Pinewood Toronto Studios in March, which it plans to expand by more than 170,000 square feet, and construction of First Studios City, a $100-million facility in the Toronto suburb of Markham which will include the country’s largest soundstage.
“Given the significant positive economic impact of foreign film productions, including on Quebec’s trade balance, and the cultural importance of having a vibrant film and video production industry to provide work for our creative talents, actors, technicians and other workers, there is an urgent need for action. We can’t just sit on our hands while our Canadian and foreign competitors eat our lunch. On the eve of the elections, we are therefore calling on all the parties to do for the film production industry what has been done for the video game industry and provide the necessary predictability by making a formal commitment to maintaining the Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit for the duration of their term of office,” Péladeau concluded.
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