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UCP revamps Alberta film corporate welfare program

It’s a program that has meet with scorn from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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The UCP government has launched its $90-million tax credit for companies to make their movies in Alberta.

It’s a program that has meet with scorn from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Maxing out at $10 million a movie, the Film and Television Tax Credit program will give productions a refundable tax credit to help cover Alberta production and labour costs

“Applicants may be eligible for either a 22 per cent or 30 per cent tax credit for productions that are Alberta owned,” the government said in a Wednesday release. 

“We want our province to be a destination that attracts talent, investment
and business from across Canada and around the globe. This credit, combined with our low tax environment and breathtaking landscapes, makes Alberta an attractive destination for big-budget television and film projects that inject millions into our economy and create jobs for Albertans,” said Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Tanya Fir.

Tanya Fir. Courtesy Twitter

The tax credit has already met with some corporate approval.

“Disney has a long history of creating content in Alberta. We are pleased to see that the Alberta government is launching a film and television tax credit and we look forward to working with them to continue to create stunning content using Alberta’s landscapes and crews.” said MaryAnn Hughes, vice president, production and investment planning for the Walt Disney Company. Her statement was provided within in the government release.

But Franco Terrazzano, Alberta director of the CTA, said Wednesday Premier Jason Kenney has better things to spend taxpayers’ money on.

“Jason Kenney has a $70-billion debt to deal with. Why is Minister Fir running around playing investment banker risking taxpayers money,” Terrazzano told the Western Standard.

Franco Terrazzano – photo from Twitter

“Stop it with this nonsense. The government has to get out of the business of being in business.”

The government’s has pledged to grow Alberta’s cultural industries by 25 per cent over the next decade.

The previous NDP government had capped their provincial film grant program at $7.5-million.

The UCP budget in October said new money for film tax credits will be $15 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year, $30 million in 2021-22 and $45 million in 2022-23. 

Some Alberta film produces are worried $90 million over four years isn’t nearly enough.

QUICK FACTS

• Every year, Alberta graduates more than 3,000 creative industry professionals from its post-secondary institutions.
• According to industry estimates, more than 3,200 Albertans are employed in the province’s motion picture and video industry.
• According to Statistics Canada data: Every $1 million of production activity in the screen-based production sector creates about 13 Alberta jobs.
• Every $1 million of government investment under the Film and Television Tax Credit program is expected to support about 60 Alberta jobs.

— Facts from the Alberta government

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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MPs from B.C least likely to give their April 1 raises to charity

B.C was the most miserly in western Canada with only 48 per cent of MPs donating their increase.

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MPs from B.C. are the stingiest in western Canada when it comes to giving up their April 1 raises to charity.

The Canadian Taxpayers Association asked all 338 MP from across the country if they planned to give their salary increase to charity in light of the coronavirus crisis. A total of 120 replied.

This year, MPs are entitled to a 2.1 per cent hike, which will increase their base salaries by just over $3,750 to $182,656.

B.C was the most miserly in western Canada with only 48 per cent of MPs donating their increase.

Of 42 B.C. MPs, only 20 did so. That was made up of 12 Tory MPs, four Liberals, three NDP members and one independent.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh did not donate his increase nor did Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

Elizabeth May

In Alberta, 24 of its 34 MPs, or 71 per cent, gave their raise to charity.

That includes 23 Tories and the lone NDP member.

In Saskatchewan, where the Tories swept the 14 available seats, 12 donated their increase for a mark of 86 per cent. Tory party leader Andrew Scheer did give up his raise.

And in Manitoba, where 14 seats were available 10 MPs made the choice to donate for a total of 71 per cent. That included 10 Tories, one NDP member and four Liberals.

Prime Minister Trudeau did make the decision to give up his raise. He earns $347,400.

“There’s no way politicians should be seeing a pay hike while countless Canadian families and businesses are struggling just to keep the lights on. It’s good to see many MPs turn down their pay bump, but there’s still MPs who haven’t confirmed whether or not they will accept a pay increase,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director of the CTF.

Franco Terrazzano

“Now would be the perfect time for politicians across the country to voluntarily reduce their own pay.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Kenney announces $2-billion in infrastructure funding

“This will create thousands of good jobs,” Kenney said at a press conference in Edmonton.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday announced $2-billion in spending to fix provincial roads, bridges and fill potholes.

The money will also be used for fixing roofs, windows and doors in K-12 schools across the province.

Kenney said some of the cash would also be used for infrastructure fixes in the province’s post secondary education facilities and justice system.

“This will create thousands of good jobs,” Kenney said at a press conference in Edmonton.

“The good news for drivers is crews will be making sure roads are pothole free.”

Kenney repeated the Alberta economy is “in serious contraction” and will talk longer to recover.

“The government is doubling the capital maintenance and renewal (CMR) funding in 2020-21 from $937 million to $1.9 billion by accelerating the capital plan. This will allow government to act quickly and work with companies across the province so they can keep their workers employed during these challenging times,” the government said in a release.

“These infrastructure investments will be focused on projects that can be actioned quickly. By doubling our capital maintenance and renewal project funds, we will deliver much-needed improvements to important assets, keep companies operating and most importantly, keep Albertans working. As the weather improves and buildings are empty, now is the perfect time for us to act,” said Kenney

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Kenney wants to track COVID cases via smartphone

A spokesperson for Alberta’s privacy commissioner said the potential use of an app to monitor movements of citizens heightened privacy concerns.

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In an effort to contain the spread of the virus, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government would be willing to use technology to monitor the movements of Albertans who tested positive for COVID-19.

Such apps have been in use in China, Taiwan, and South Korea but have yet to be introduced to Western countries.

“I have been very clear; we intend to follow the lessons learned from successful countries like Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea to more quickly reopen our economy and the relaunch strategy involves, in part, the limited and appropriate use of wireless apps, of smartphone apps for individuals who are under quarantine orders,” the premier said Wednesday in response to a question in the Legislature from UCP MLA Shane Getson.

Using international travel as an example, Kenney said it would help the government to “know if that person is going to go home and stay home”.

A spokesperson for Alberta’s privacy commissioner said the potential use of an app to monitor movements of citizens heightened privacy concerns.

“There are several unknowns about how an app would be deployed and what laws would be engaged by doing so,” Scott Sibbald told Postmedia.

“Any option being considered is sure to have privacy implications that would require reasonable safeguards to protect personal or health information. The Commissioner expects to be consulted on the various initiatives being explored by the Government of Alberta.”

Across the border, Kentucky officials have opted to use ankle monitors for individuals who have tested positive but “refuse to stay home”.

Kenney’s brief statement did not suggest the app would be used for those who refused to follow public health orders but rather for the government to monitor their cellular location and be assured targeted Albertans were staying home.

“The thought the government is going to start tracing people everywhere they go is ridiculous,” Kenney said.

“To protect us from a second phase of the pandemic, we might have to do what Taiwan, (China), Singapore and South Korea have done … we want to make sure they’re actually following the quarantine.”

Numbers released from the Alberta government’s modelling on Wednesday suggest the peak of the pandemic will not happen until late May. A second wave, if it were going to happen, would likely come in the fall after physical distancing restrictions were reduced.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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