In just over a year and a half, the Alberta Film and Television Tax Credit has brought in nearly $1 billion in production costs to the province. The 50 productions have resulted in 9,000 new direct and indirect jobs, the provincial government said Tuesday.
“This is a true Alberta success story: a billion-dollar industry springing up around us right in front of our eyes,” Premier Jason Kenney said.
Kenney was joined by a trio of ministers, representatives from industry unions like IATSE, ACTRA and Teamsters, and industry advocates were on hand to provide the snapshot of the screen industry.
Active productions in Alberta include HBO’s The Last Of Us, season 15 of Heartland, Predator sequel Skulls and dramas Billy the Kid and Joe Pickett.
“These productions are filling hotel rooms all over Alberta, with workers who are patronizing restaurants and other services. They’re hiring carpenters and caterers, they’re creating jobs for lighting and tech crews, they’re driving both economic diversification and growth at a time when we desperately need it,” the premier said.
Nate Horner, Associate Minister of Rural Economic Development, hailed rural Alberta’s “get ‘er done attitude” as key to help grow the province’s screen-based industry.
HBO’s The Last of Us, which, according to ACTRA Alberta, started production in the province on July 5, is being touted as the largest such production in Canada’s history, with filming on the series expected to wrap in June 2022.
“From breathtaking landscapes to a growing and skilled workforce, Alberta has a lot to offer to the global production community,” Jay Roewe, HBO’s senior VP of production and incentives, said, thanking the provincial government for the tax credit on behalf of the cast and crew.
In January 2020, Alberta’s Film and Television Tax Credit replaced the previous Screen-based Production Grant, making Alberta more competitive with other provinces like B.C., Manitoba and Ontario to attract productions.
Productions can apply for a 22 or 30 per cent tax credit rate in this province.
In March, the Alberta government lifted the $10-million-per-project cap, making the tax credit more appealing to larger productions.
At the time, the province said the tax credit provided a “significant return on investment,” saying $4 came into the province’s economy for every $1 in tax credit handed out.
The provincial government has earmarked $50 million in 2021-22 for the tax credit.
In June, the City of Calgary announced the sale of the Calgary Film Centre, citing a booming film and television industry and the facility booked solid through 2022.
At the time, Calgary Economic Development said the film and TV sector added $197 million to the city’s economy in 2019. Under COVID-19 restrictions, the industry added $90 million and 2,474 jobs in 2020.
Doug Schweitzer, minister of jobs, economy and innovation, said the creation of thousands of jobs in the film and television industry is an encouraging sign of economic diversification in the province. He also had a message for people in Canada’s industry who previously lived in Alberta.
“Come on home. We’d love to have you come on home, back to Alberta and work in the film and television industry,” Schweitzer said. “You have a long-term prospect in the industry here in Alberta: we need people to train that next generation of young Albertans that want to be in this industry.”