BC and NS are fighting fit, AB and MB rotund-all governments need to do more in 2010 to shed red tape: CFIB

Toronto, ON (January 14, 2010) — To wrap up the country’s first ever Red Tape Awareness Week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is appointing itself as personal trainer to Canadian governments for the coming year and beyond. Instead of focusing on the shedding of calories, however, CFIB will be evaluating provincial performance and challenging all provinces, municipalities and the federal government to make getting serious about reducing red tape a 2010 New Year’s resolution.

CFIB evaluates commitment to regulatory reform on five criteria including measurement and political leadership.

“You can’t be accountable if you aren’t tracking what’s going on and without political leadership from the top commitment to reducing red tape languishes,” said Laura Jones, Vice President for Western Canada.

BC and Nova Scotia are in the best provincial shape with four out of five thumbs-up on their regulatory reform regimens. Neither province has made its reforms permanent-which is what it would take to maintain and fine tune an Olympian bureaucratic physique. Newfoundland and Labrador is also in good health with three out of five.

BC has placed a great deal of emphasis on reducing provincial red tape for the better part of the past decade, registering a 42.6 per cent reduction in regulatory requirements-more than 163,000 regulations. In Nova Scotia, it was reported in October of this year that the number of hours being spent by businesses on paperwork had been decreased by 91,000, while neighbouring Newfoundland & Labrador has returned approximately $30 million in regulatory fees to the coffers of businesses. Quebec also has measures in place, although they are not regularly reported.

“These provinces set a great example for regulatory reform across Canada,” said Jones. “They have been innovators and all have great opportunity to build on a solid foundation. The danger is that they will neglect to make reforms permanent and regulatory creep will set in again. We hope instead they will make reforms a permanent lifestyle change.”

Sedentary with respect to regulatory reform are Manitoba, Alberta, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, all of which do not have any publicly reported measures of red tape, constraints on regulators or high level political leadership-all the warning signs leading to possible regulatory obesity. “These provinces are missing a huge opportunity and it’s past due that they got serious and set a concrete target for eliminating unnecessary red tape,” said Jones.

Ontario, Saskatchewan and PEI have made promising commitments to reform but it’s too early to assess progress; intent, of course, is half the battle! New Brunswick has been talking the talk, but, unfortunately, it has yet to show up for a weigh-in.

The federal government reduced red tape by 20 per cent in 2008 but the exercise was short lived. “The feds should build on their 2008 initiative and make reducing red tape a permanent priority-it’s the cheapest, most effective stimulus package any politician could hope for,” said Jones, referring to the futility of yo-yo dieting.

About CFIB

CFIB has been a big voice for small business for over 35 years with 105,000 members nationwide in every sector. Taking our direction from CFIB Members, through regular surveys, we lobby for small- and medium-sized businesses at the federal, provincial and local levels of government. For more information, visit www.cfib.ca.