Monday, May 16, 2005

Film subsidies killing SK taxpayers

First, taxpayers were asked to foot the bill for an $11.5 million for film soundstage in Regina that would woo film and television productions to Saskatchewan. The province also has a "Film Employment Tax Credit" that subsidizes 35% of a film production's labour costs. Actually, it used to be that the tax credit only applied to Saskatchewan workers, but the province changed the program to subsidize out-of-province workers when qualified local workers can't be found.

Now, we learn, that the soundstage was also the recipient of $5.5 million "loan" from Saskatchewan taxpayers. Intrepid CBC reporter John Weidlich has obtained documents showing that the soundstage has not made a payment loan for the past three years. In total, the soundstage has defaulted on $2.9 million in payments and interest.

The grand total, in case you are trying to keep track, is in the $26 million neighbourhood...and growing. $26 million to subsidize an industry that is showing few signs of significant life.

Oh yeah, the City of Regina also has given a property tax break that ends in 2009. The documents indicate that the soundstage won't be able to pay its $600 thousand annual property tax bill either.

The film industry is Saskatchewan's Music Man.

Oh we've got trouble!

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