A2C asks government for ‘fiscal fairness’

The industry body wants to see tax incentives for tech companies made accessible to Quebec's agencies.

The Association des agences de communication créative (A2C), which represents Quebec’s creative shops, is asking the government to reconsider the ways in which agencies are excluded from tax credits that might help them continue to grow and attract talent.

The plea comes on the heels of a recent report by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, which showed that while creative communications represents 18% of jobs in the city’s creative industry, it is one of only two sectors that does not have access to tax credits (the other being architecture). The A2C also points out that advertising investments in Quebec have risen steadily over the past 10 years: its most recent economic study showed nearly $2.9 billion is invested in advertising, with digital investments increasing by 53% over four years and now to top $1 billion. The A2C says these changes require “an immense need” for recruitment and professional development.

This comes as governments at the federal and provincial level continue to offer tax credits to sectors such as ecommerce, multimedia and, namely, IT and technology. While those credits are meant to encourage innovation in Canada, Dominique Villeneuve, president and CEO of the A2C, says it is unfair for agencies in the province to be excluded from those credits, as they are currently trying to recruit from similar areas.

“Agencies right now are IT companies at the same time,” she says. “We are recruiting the same people and talent, working on the same kinds of projects as they do, and sometimes on the same client. It just seems fair to adjust the criteria. We are service companies that uses IT talent with advertising talent. It’s already difficult to recruit talent in Canada and Quebec, and these incentives give IT companies an edge over our industry.”

While these credits exist at both the federal and provincial level, Villeneuve is most hopeful about opening discussions with Quebec’s new provincial government, as Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec recently took power in October. She says the A2C had held discussions with the previous Quebec government about the issue and received some openness, but says that changing tax criteria is a complicated process that requires ongoing discussions. With the release of the CCMM report and the new government being set up, Villeneuve believes it is a perfect time to restart the dialogue.

“We need to find the right solution,” she says, “and because it’s a new government, we have to have discussions now, to open up the possibility.”