POLITICS

Nova Scotia finance minister tries to quell fears over future of film tax credit

04/07/2015 02:38 EDT | Updated 06/07/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's finance minister is attempting to quell fears from the province's film and television industry that the government may cut a tax credit in Thursday's budget.

Diana Whalen responded Tuesday to mounting pressure from the sector, which is looking to protect an incentive it says is crucial to remaining competitive with other jurisdictions.

Whalen said she's heard from many people in the industry in the past couple of days and while there's a lot of speculation, they should wait to see what is in the budget.

"We will be talking and there's going to be a tomorrow, let me put it that way," she said.

Many in the film and television industry have been sounding the alarm since Whalen said the tax credit was under review in a speech two weeks ago to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.

In her speech, Whalen said the tax credit costs taxpayers $24 million per year and pays up to 65 per cent of eligible salaries for film and TV projects.

"By contrast, our payroll rebates for other industries are eight to 10 per cent of eligible salaries, at most," she said.

Whalen said Tuesday her department is double-checking its analysis of the credit.

A recent online video by the Trailer Park Boys asking the government to preserve the tax credit has garnered more than 525,000 views on their Facebook page and drawn the attention of Snoop Dogg and Axl Rose.

Screen Nova Scotia has also taken up the cause, saying about 2,000 people work in an industry that pumps roughly $139 million into the province's economy each year.

NDP member Lenore Zann, a former actor, said she believes the film credit should remain untouched because the industry will move otherwise.

"It is a fluid industry and it goes to where the best tax credits are and right now we have the competitive edge," said Zann.

Opposition Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said he believes more measures like the tax credit are needed to help spur job growth.

"Everything can be improved and I'm sure there are ways to make it stronger," said Baillie.