Red Tape Awareness WeekTM 2017

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Our annual Red Tape Awareness Week has come to another successful conclusion. Throughout the week we were able to shine a light on some of the worst red tape headaches for our members, we rewarded government officials who showed leadership by relieving small businesses of those headaches, and we let it be known that we will not stop until red tape itself is eradicated.

Highlights of the week that was:

  • Premier Christy Clark and the Honourable Coralee Oakes of B.C. won the Golden Scissors Award, our highest red tape honour
    • Their Red Tape Reduction Day became a model for governments throughout the country
  • We invoked a one-for-one challenge to the Premiers on behalf of our members
    • Manitoba took up our challenge and became the first province to promise legislation implementing a one-for-one law in the coming year
    • Two opposition parties in two very different provinces, Alberta and Quebec, committed to accept the challenge if given the chance
    • The BC government gave us a strong indication that they will do the same
  • Our annual red tape Report Card was released, with BC and Quebec at the head of the class
    • Tweets and messages from policy makers in many provinces had the entire country engaged
  • Our investigative report of the CRA Call Centre revealed some serious shortcomings with this essential helpline

Still, the work continues beyond the week, as throughout the year we will be challenging governments to keep a surgeon’s eye on the tangled mess of unnecessary regulations holding back your small business:

+The silly rules

A local business owner in Smithers, a town of 5,000 in BC, had to grapple with an ill-thought out municipal bylaw when he applied for a permit to renovate a commercial building. Based on the cost of the construction, the town required him to build a sidewalk across the road from the building, leading to an abrupt dead-end. Seeing this as a poor use of time and money, the business owner offered the money in lieu of the sidewalk for the town to use in a more needed area. After the town council rejected the business owner’s offer, he dutifully built the 30 metre sidewalk to nowhere himself, at a cost of $10,000, plus his valuable time.  The nearest neighbouring sidewalk: half a kilometer away.

+The confusing tax laws
In Quebec, a 1934 law makes “Joint Committees” responsible for the administration of 15 decrees in lieu of a collective agreement that applies to businesses operating in some sectors, located in some regions of Quebec. Not only does this law undermine the competitiveness of businesses that are covered versus those who are not, but it requires significant time and resources be devoted just to comply with the many rules and requirements imposed and enforced by the Joint Committees. This is a cumbersome, costly system that does not exist anywhere else in North America. According to this law, employers have to pay Joint Committees a contribution from their employees in addition to a payroll tax calculated on the hours and activities their workers do that are covered by the decree. This means that employers have to separate and calculate monthly, covered hours worked by every worker in the business (which can be different than total hours worked because not all activities and hours worked are covered by the decree) and apportion contributions to the Joint Committees for each employee. In addition, this process must be done separately than the regular pay deductions process (income tax, public pension fund, WCB contributions, etc.) that are paid monthly to Revenu Québec. This means that Quebec business owners covered by a decree have to operate a double pay system in their accounting system to comply with a law that is more than 80 years old and that is supposedly still needed in only one place in North America: Quebec...
+The time-wasting paperwork

Looking to launch a winery in Ontario? There’s a permit for that. Actually, there are six, from four different agencies, and it’ll cost you $1,260 every two years to get them. There’s another permit for selling your wine on your property, and another for selling by the glass, and another for serving food, totalling another $1,800 up front. The whole process will take eight to 12 weeks – per permit – and requires a multitude of official application forms, personal history reports, chemical analysis fees, site plans and municipal information forms. If you’re looking to make specialty wines, there are even more hoops to jump through, like getting your beekeeper’s licence to make milled wine, or ensuring that 70 per cent of your apples are Ontario grown to make apple-based wines. Looking to skip the onsite sales headaches? No problem, just apply to the LCBO for another permit.

+The unhelpful government policies
The Alberta government has added mandatory Workers’ Compensation coverage to farming operations as of January 2016. On top of that, Occupational Health and Safety, Employment Standards, and the Labour Code are coming soon to all farms and ranches. This legislation will have acrippling effect on the farms in the province because as currently written these rules and regulations may make sense for retail businesses but are not written with the realities of farming in mind. Agriculture is not a “nine-to-five” business, especially during periods of peak production (e.g. harvest, calving season, etc). Farmers can lose thousands of dollars if all hands are not on deck to bring in the crop or livestock. For example, if a frost is expected overnight, the entire farm crew must work twice as hard to finish combining in order not to lose their harvest.

…everything that constitutes what is derisively known as red tape.


Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President for CFIB (left) presents the 2017 Golden Scissors Award to Honourable Christy Clark, Premier of BC (right)

Laura Jones and Samantha Howard present the 2017 GSA to Honourable Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction for BC (middle)





RTAW NS - Golden Scissors Honorable Mention Award Winner - Chief Regulatory Officer - Fred Crooks with Jordi Morgan and Kate Allen

RTAW - CFIB's Jordi Morgan with Minister Furey - Nova Scotia Department of Business


Come lend your voice by filling out a survey or giving us a call – Let us know how government red tape and burdensome regulations are holding you back. Help spread the word.

Let CFIB help – Learn practical strategies to cut through red tape by taking advantage of our web resources.

Join CFIB – Become part of the solution, and help strengthen what is already the strongest voice for the concerns of small business in Canada. Plus, take advantage of the many other benefits that 109,000 independent businesses have come to expect from CFIB.