Canadian governments move to reduce regulatory impact on small businesses
January 25, 2012
Red tape has become something of a swear word among Canadian small business owners. While the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made substantial efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on the country's entrepreneurs and small companies, the vast network of red tape remains a daunting adversary.
Last week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business moved to raise awareness of government efforts to lessen the rules and restrictions imposed on small firms. As a part of Canada's "Red Tape Awareness Week," the CFIB graded provinces according to their success at reeling in regulations. Ontario was given a "B" grade for eliminating some 80,000 rules since 2008. However, that marked a mere 17-percent dip, as the province still 386,251 regulations.
The CFIB also offered a series of recommendations for expediting the process of red tape reduction, one of which involves tasking the Auditor General of Canada to review and report on the government's progress.
"Adding red tape oversight to the mandate of the Auditor General is a really innovative idea," said Catherine Swift, CFIB president and member of the Federal Red Tape Reduction Commission. "If the federal government moves on this it will show it is very, very serious about eliminating dumb and ineffective rules and improving government customer service."
CFIB analysts have estimated that regulations cost Canadian businesses more than $30 billion a year, with about 25 percent of that cost - $7.5 billion - considered unnecessary red tape. Part of the problem, according to Andrew Paquette, owner of a Montreal party rental business, is the array of regulations that exists across all 10 provinces.
"If I want compliance or a permit to do something in Ontario as well as Quebec, I have to fill out two applications," Paquette told CTV Montreal. "Small business - it's part of what we have to do … It's 2012 now, they need to become more efficient."
Prime Minister Harper formed the Red Tape Reduction Commission roughly a year ago. While some progress has been made, analysts expect the considerable task of sifting through Canada's mountain of red tape to take some time.