March 20, 2009 – Vancouver – Minister of State Diane Ablonczy’s announcement today that the federal government met its target to reduce paper burden by 20 per cent is being hailed as a big step forward by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). “The federal government set the most aggressive timeline in the country for reducing red-tape,” said CFIB president Catherine Swift. “This is a truly impressive accomplishment by the thirteen departments and agencies that were involved in the process.”
CFIB estimates that red-tape costs Canadian businesses around $30 billion a year, with small firms paying the highest per-employee costs. “This means business owners’ waste time and money at the expense of their companies, their employees and, more generally, the economy,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s vice-president of Western Canada and co-chair of the Federal Advisory Committee on Paper Burden Reduction. “It’s great to see this changing,” she added, “as keeping these costs manageable can help create some economic certainty in uncertain times.”
CFIB emphasizes the need to build on the announcement and make reforms permanent. “Regulation is an ongoing headache for business,” said Swift. She pointed out the antidote is ongoing measurement and control, not one-off reduction initiatives. Jones said measuring and controlling paper burden over the long term is a key recommendation in the Advisory Committee on Paper Burden’s last report to government. She said that during the election campaign it was good to see the government commit to this. “We look forward to working with the federal government to make it a reality.”
Jones said it was nice to see the announcement being made in Vancouver as the B.C. provincial government was the first in the country to commit to measuring and reducing red-tape in 2001. Since then, many other provinces including Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec and most recently, Ontario have moved in this direction. “The B.C. government deserves a lot of credit for their initiative, which has been a model for the federal government and for others across the country,” said Jones.
Swift said the government has moved on several of CFIB’s specific recommendations to streamline red-tape, including announcing a simplified automobile expense deduction. “This change alone, once implemented, promises to save thousands of hours that can be put to more productive use,” said Swift. She also said Ottawa has allowed more businesses to move from monthly to quarterly tax remittances, simplified the Scientific Research and Development tax credit and is introducing a passport that can be renewed every 10 years instead of the current five. “Branding Canada as being serious about controlling red-tape over the long term promises big economic rewards. This announcement is an important step in that direction,” concluded Swift.
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses. Encouraging the development of good public policy at the federal, provincial and municipal levels, CFIB represents more than 105,000 business owners, who collectively employ 1.25 million Canadians and account for $75 billion in GDP. www.cfib.ca.