After months of lobbying for attention from politicians and the public, the province’s beleaguered screen industries have made it onto the election platforms of four major political parties running in the April 16 election, with three suggesting they would follow other jurisdictions in making incentives more enticing for big-budget productions.
The Alberta Party, United Conservative Party and Alberta Liberals all make reference to the industry in their official platforms, promising to change from a grant-based program to one based on tax credits. The NDP also released its platform, although it was considerably more vague, vowing to consult with industry stakeholders about changes.
Damian Petti, spokesman for the Alberta Screen Industry Action Committee and president of the film workers union IATSE 212, said it’s a sign that politicians see the industry as a key player in economic diversification and recognize its system of incentives needs to be changed if Alberta is to compete with Ontario, British Columbia and, increasingly, Manitoba. This is the first time the industry has been mentioned in election platforms of the major political parties, he said.
“In Alberta, we’ve survived despite our quirky incentives,” said Petti. “There is kind of a feeling this time around that this is our one big shot to finally fix some of these problems. I’ve not seen the type of unity that we have right now before.”