MONTREAL — British Columbia Premier Glen Clark has introduced a new tax credit for foreign production that will give non-Canadian producers an 11% rebate on all labor costs for projects shot in the province on the west coast of Canada.

The tax credit will save producers roughly five percent of their overall costs and brings B.C. on par with Ontario and Quebec, which both recently unveiled similar tax-credit schemes.

Ontario competition

B.C. Film Commissioner Pete Mitchell said the province has lost at least C$50 million ($35 million) worth of TV-movie shoots since Ontario kicked-off its tax-credit program in November, and the government decided it couldn’t afford to wait any longer before introducing the new initiative.

“The film industry is a growing industry here and it’s footloose,” said Mitchell. “It can move anywhere it wants very quickly. We heard from our key customers that they wanted this and we responded. It’s all about competition and about staying on a level playing field.”

Aiding the film industry has become a major priority for the provincial government, added Mitchell, who noted that the Clark administration also introduced a tax-credit for domestic Canuck productions in April.

“This tax credit is welcome news for those of us who want to shoot our productions in Vancouver,” said Mel Swope, executive vice president of production at MGM Worldwide Television. “This new credit ensures that British Columbia stays at the top of the list of desired locations for film or TV production.”

Dual savings

The new B.C. tax credit is open to all producers shooting in the province and it can be accessed alongside the similar federal tax-credit program, giving producers savings of 22 percent on labor costs. There are no Canadian-content restrictions on the credit and it will be administered by the provincial funding agency, B.C. Film.

Last year, there was $443 million worth of production spending in B.C. and Film Commissioner Mitchell said the 1998 tally will likely top last year’s total, even with the $35 million loss to Ontario over the past six months.