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Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has been on a shopping spree to lure entertainment jobs to Toronto. The province recently hiked its 25% tax credit to offset all local production costs and poured nearly $250 million into studio spaces for Starz Animation and French video game company Ubisoft. McGuinty sat down with The Hollywood Reporter’s Etan Vlessing to discuss Ontario’s investments in entertainment industry and next-generation jobs.
The Hollywood Reporter: Canada recently hiked its tax incentive. Was that aimed at competing with anyone?
Dalton McGuinty: It’s aimed at everyone. Our intention is to make foreign producers an offer they can’t refuse. If you look at what we’ve done in the last couple of years, our tax credit increased from 18% to 25%. In the most recent budget we made that permanent to show that we are in it to win it. We’re absolutely committed to this sector and have great tax credits to keep your production costs down.
THR: How would you respond to charges that the tax credits are fiscally irresponsible?
McGuinty: This is an investment, and when you net out our tax credits, we’re still coming out ahead in terms of the jobs that we support and the investments that are made in communities. All of this has spinoff benefits for the local economy. And we think those who are bold, particularly during difficult times, stand to benefit when the economy recovers.
THR: But you’ve also spent nearly $250 million during a severe recession. Why?
McGuinty: We want to move beyond (being) “the great set on which foreign production can be filmed.” We also want to enhance the permanent infrastructure, when it comes to our human resources. Hence our determination to land a company like Ubisoft, or our partnership with Starz Entertainment. And we’re working with our colleges to help ensure that we have the kinds of programs that contribute to that skill set, so we develop a great sense of momentum.
THR: Where will that momentum lead?
McGuinty: In terms of our international standing, I see Ontario being recognized as a powerful and permanent North American player. If you are thinking of shooting a movie or a TV production in North America, you will automatically give consideration to Ontario. We will remain an exceptionally welcoming environment in terms of our tax treatment of foreign productions.
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