Okay folks. I don’t particularly like to be positioned as someone who is ‘against’ the movie biz in New Brunswick. There were two reasons why I said the industry was not particularly strong from an economic development perspective. First, it is highly subsidized – I specifically said this is true across Canada as well. Second, it is a tiny industry that has not shown great growth potential. I also said three times there may be cultural grounds for supporting the industry but that is not the same as economic grounds.
Since then there has been a flurry of activity. I think that single blog post (of the 3,000 since 2003) is either the most commented on our among the top two or three commented on in the eight year history of this blog. In addition, I have recieved nasty emails calling me a ‘liar’ and even a voice mail on my home phone to this effect.
So, to clear things up, I do not consider myself to be a liar. I use Statistics Canada and reputatable data sources.
I have been arguing that New Brunswick needs to foster growth sectors – sectors with real opportunity to create hundreds and even thousands of jobs for New Brunswickers. Following the pack and being a poor imitation of another province is not my idea of economic development. If the film biz could show a substantial growth opportunity, I would say that government investments may be valuable. But the industry is tiny – according to Statistics Canada it averages around $6.5 million per year in GDP – GDP is the output from an industry that stays in the province. This is the direct effect. The indirect and induced effects are on top of that and not particularly high as evidenced by the multipliers.
Gross Domestic Product (NB) – Motion picture and video production, distribution, post-production and other motion picture and video industries [5121A0]
Source: Statistics Canada. Table 381-0015 – Provincial gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices in current dollars, System of National Accounts (SNA) benchmark values, by sector and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), annual (table).
I don’t know where the $650 million figure that is being sent around is coming from – I can’t access the link that was sent. It is possible that the calculation they are using picks up a bunch of ther related industries – not sure. It would be interesting to see their assumptions and sources.
The bottom line is this. Much of New Brunswick’s economic development thinking has been follow the pack. We mimic what other provinces are doing and get marginal benefits. On a GDP basis, Nova Scotia’s film industry is almost three times larger than New Brunswick. But this comes at a price. Subsidization is even higher in Nova Scotia.
In the end, I gave the movie biz two out of five stars for its economic development potential. I have seen nothing that moves me off that position. I also said three times that if subsidies are justified on cultural/artistic grounds, that is a different beast. I am a fan of strengthening cultural content in the province.