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Canuck report: more prod’n audits

'System can be improved,' heritage minister says

TORONTO — The Canadian government has concluded in a report released Wednesday that there’s nothing wrong with the film and TV tax incentives and funding system in the Great White North, but producers can expect more audits in the wake of a list of recommendations for tightening up the system nonetheless.

The recommendations in the Ministry of Heritage report came out of a review launched in November 1999 in the wake of the Cinar scandal. Cinar has been accused of stretching the rules to qualify for tax incentives and funding credits in place for the Canadian film and television industry, and some are concerned that such alleged liberties are widespread in the industry.

“Although this process has confirmed that our practices are sound,” Heritage Minister Sheila Copps said in a statement, “it has pointed to areas where the system can be improved and identified the tools to get the job done.”

A series of recommendations have been agreed upon by the government and the participating parties — Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Television Fund, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office.

The one visible difference Canuck TV and film producers can expect ismore audits for productions past, present and future. The remaining measures are mostly centered on setting and evaluating goals and systems among those parties, much of which hinges on the need for better co-ordination of their functions and the sharing of information.

“There was a need for more communication between groups,” concluded Anne Scotton, who chaired the ministry’s review. “From the perspective of the federal government, I believe that this is a piece of work that restores confidence in public accountability for the use of public funds.”

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