Film productions in Canada that use non-Canadian actors will suffer from the new temporary foreign worker rules, as per industry insiders.
Under Employment Minister Jason Kenney’s reform of the temporary foreign worker program, international actors, and film and TV production crews will be classified as temporary foreign workers, and subject to a $1,000 fee and 15-day waiting period.
Shawn Williamson, president of Brightlight Pictures in Vancouver, which produces shows like Fox’s Witches of East End and ABC’s Mistresses, said if they can’t get US actors in quickly to work around their shooting schedules, they will lose business.
Mr. Williamson mentioned that he already knows of a case where a shoot had to be postponed because a permit was not granted on time.
In Ottawa foreign musicians entering Canada have been from the new rules. Those who come to Canada to perform for a limited time at any venue are not required to obtain a work permit.
However, there are no plans to do the same for foreign producers and actors.
The new program comes with an increase in the work permit fee from $275 to $1,000, for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer.
The film and TV business in Canada employs thousands of people, local and foreign, and sustains several offshoot industries like caterers, car rental companies, and props rental shops.
Peter Leitch, chairperson of B.C.’s Motion Picture Production Industry Association, said it’s like taxing tourists visiting Canada. “These people are bringing money up here, they are going to spend money in the economy … the industry brings in $1-billion in B.C. alone, but that could all disappear very quickly,” he said.
Mr Williamson was particularly disappointed with the 15-day waiting period. He fears that if this doesn’t change, US studios could easily pull out of Canada. “[They] will start considering other alternatives. They could easily switch to Louisiana and take advantage of the incentives there,” he said.
British Columbia attracts US studios for several reasons. “There’s the low Canadian dollar, it’s the same time zone as L.A., there’s moderate weather and a strong base of cast and crew,” explained Mr Williamson.
Tom Murray, who works in TV commercials, said the $1,000 fee will kill the business. “Canada is taxing foreigners who are coming to Canada with high-paying, environmentally friendly jobs for Canadians. There’s a lot of other countries around the world that let them enter for free.”
Source: National Post