Thursday, October 24th 2019 saw the United Conservative Party release the 2019-2023 Alberta budget.
Cuts were made across the board affecting hospitals, students, the disabled, teachers, municipalities, etc.
The local games industry was also affected.
The Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit that was brought in by the previous NDP government has seen success in the roughly one year that it operated. It offered a 25% refundable tax credit for labor costs as well as an additional 5% if under-represented employees were hired. It also made Alberta competitive as other provinces also have IDMTCs: BC (17.5%), MB (35%), NL (40%), NS (50%), ON (35%), PE (25%), and QC (37.5%).
The tax credit was partially or wholly responsible for bringing in Improbable IO (Edmonton) and New World Interactive (Calgary).
It was also being used by many midsized game studios that were created right here in Alberta. Small investments that were being rolled back into the businesses to continue to grow. It was truly a win win (unlike the $233 million Husky acquired from the new Alberta tax cuts which will be used outside of Alberta).
The following tweets summed up everyone’s feelings after the shocking news
Previous to #IDMTC we were at a disadvantage relative to other provinces. We had 18 full time employees. Under the belief the government had our back with the program leveling the playing field, we've grown to 52 staff. We had plans for over 100 full time staff in Alberta.
— Trent Oster (@TrentOster) October 24, 2019
Thanks to Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, Trent’s company, @BeamdogInc, scaled up from 18 to 52 f/t employees w/ plans for over 100.
— David Shepherd 🚲 (@DShepYEG) October 25, 2019
What bad timing by the @Alberta_UCP to cancel IDMTC. #Alberta is hosting a major international conference on #gamedev next week. Investors and deal makers would've been promoted on investing here, now they'll be eyeing up talent they can poach as jobs are lost #ableg #yeg #yyc https://t.co/fLupmEGTCX
— Logan Foster (@LoganCDN) October 25, 2019
The following was a message from East Side games of Vancouver regarding Jason Kenney and the UCP axing the Digital Media Tax credit. Years of lobbying and industry consults went into the IDMTC program. All erased on a vindictive political whim by an out of touch gov. #ableg pic.twitter.com/4UhE24wm1A
— Kyle_Itzy 🇨🇦 🕹️ (@Kyle_Itzy) October 26, 2019
I’m super disappointed in the @Alberta_UCP and @jkenney. Losing the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit is a huge loss for hundreds of jobs that would’ve been created in the gaming industry. The gov investment would’ve paled in comparison to the economic growth created in AB.
— Mike Lohaus (@DirkRugged) October 25, 2019
My wife and I have already been discussing. Axing the IDMTC will hit my company hard and limit our opportunity to grow while other provinces would love to have us. Not sure what's keeping us here, aside from sentimental attachment as Alberta has always been my home.
— Kyle_Itzy 🇨🇦 🕹️ (@Kyle_Itzy) October 24, 2019
We budgeted more money to go to oil and gas propaganda than to helping Alberta businesses compete on an even playing field with other provinces.
— Nikolas Zorko (@JohnnyGuitarDev) October 24, 2019
Alberta is bleeding talent, and I'm gutted that there is a high chance that I'm leaving my dev family behind and contributing to the brain drain. The digital media tax cut affects folks like me directly. I am going to have to leave before I even got the chance to break in.
— Vlada ✨😈✨ (@vladadraws) October 24, 2019
The removal of the Alberta Investor Tax credit and Interactive Dogital Media Tax credit is a stunning move. With these cuts Alberta became a much less appealing location for tech and video games, for a savings of $23.4 Million. Less than the cost of a “War Room”
— Trent Oster (@TrentOster) October 27, 2019
The government believes that lowering corproate tax rates from 12% to 8% over 4 years (1% per year) will benefit all business equally, but in reality this will only benefit large companies that have a foothold in Alberta (read: oil companies).
Investment, growth and diversity have all taken a hit with this announcement but we’re confident that we’ll continue to see amazing games and innovation out of our local game developers.
— CBC Calgary (@CBCCalgary) October 26, 2019