In the recent provincial election the government may have subtly been sending a message that continuous grants over the long term are a thing of the past.
If you attended the recent Yorkton Film Festival many attendees might suggest the message was not even all that subtle. The industry took a full volley broadside hit when the budget announced the almost immediate cut of the Film Employment Tax Credit.
That cut is being pointed to as the impetus of an exodus of film industry talent from Saskatchewan, with some suggesting the complete demise of the sector.
While that dark a future for the film industry may not transpire, it is a major shift in terms of provincial funding, and runs counter to what happens in almost every provincial jurisdiction.
Walk from the Gallagher Centre where the film festival was held down to the stabling area of the Cornerstone Raceway and you will find a more desperate story.
The province has also announced it will no longer provide a grant which for decades has been used to support purses for standardbred and thoroughbred racing in the province.
In the case of standardbred racing most of the horses are at a level where they have limited, if any, alternate places they could competitively race. If an alternate funding system can’t be cobbled together in the next 10-months the sector will be dead, and many of the horses likely headed down a road they won’t return from.
So what has film and horse racing to do with agriculture?
In this case their fate may be the herald of what could be coming down the road.
If the government has philosophically decided the government’s role should not be supporting sectors which rely continually on grants to survive, agriculture might want to pay attention.
Farming turns to government for grants on a rather regular basis, and historically has been rather reliant on that support.
As an example, think about crop insurance where government is a participant in cost-sharing the program. While some might suggest that is not a grant, most would say that is semantics. The government puts money in annually.
And cost-sharing doesn’t exactly change things, since filmmakers have other funding sources besides the tax credit, and horse racing generates some of the funds which flow back through a tax of monies wagered.
Others might note through programs such as crop insurance the government not only supports farmers, but farm suppliers and other business since the money rolls quickly through the economy.
The race horse sector and film industry can point to the same economic stimulation.
So while no one in government has even hinted agriculture grants/subsidies are on the cut agenda, it does beg the question why they are seen as different from those cut in the budget?
It is certainly a question filmmakers and race horse owners must be asking as they see their industries threatened by recent decisions.