Ontario provides $3 million in one-time funding to the Canadian Film Centre

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TORONTO — Ontario says it's providing $3 million in financial support to help the Canadian Film Centre through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Culture Minister Lisa MacLeod said Tuesday that the one-time funding is part of the province’s efforts to support the film, television and new media industries through the public health crisis.

"Film and television production as well as animation and video gaming have been a real growth area in our creative industries and I believe that, as our sectors recover from COVID-19, we will see a real stark increase based on the ability of our creators to get their content around the world," MacLeod said at a virtual news conference.

The government said that film and television production supported by the province contributed $2.16 billion to the economy in 2019, creating 44,540 jobs for Ontarians.

Production had to stop during the first wave of the pandemic in spring of 2020. However, the government said Tuesday that Ontario hosted more than 60 productions between July 2020 and January 2021.

Justin Cutler, Ontario film commissioner for Ontario Creates, said that the number of projects in production in the province in the latter part of 2020 was more than 30 per cent higher than it was in the same period in 2019.

Christina Jennings, chairwoman of the CFC's board of directors, said the money will help existing programs, as well as develop new initiatives to better equip Canadian talent for success in Canada and on the global stage.

"The CFC is not only creating those higher-level programs for the writers and directors but we're also creating the programs for experienced crew members," said Jennings.

The CFC is a nationally recognized cultural organization that offers several development programs for various screen-based roles, including screenwriters, performers, composers and entrepreneurs.

MacLeod and Jennings both said that encouraging TV and film production outside of the Greater Toronto Area is a priority.

The culture minister said that incentivizing domestic productions to film in southwestern and eastern Ontario would be important to stimulating those areas economically.

Jennings said there could be practical benefits to moving productions outside of Canada's largest city.

"Toronto is actually becoming quite tough to film here," said Jennings, who is also the CEO of Shaftesbury, which produces TV series including CBC's "Murdoch Mysteries," Citytv's "Hudson & Rex" and Global's "Departure."

"There's a lack of studio space, we've got all the American productions — which is fantastic for jobs — but as a domestic producer it makes it a little tougher."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2021.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press