Canadian free trade is here—but there is still work to do

After years of CFIB’s advocacy, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement came into effect on July 1! This is a great gift to the country on the 150th anniversary of Confederation, but there is a lot of work to be done before trade barriers actually fall.

Laura Jones and Monique Moreau from CFIB present the Special Edition Golden Scissors Award to the Trade ministers in recognition of the CFTA

How We Got Here

CFIB has fought for you on this issue since 2008, when we started calling for a new internal free trade agreement. We stayed on top of the issue by, publishing a report where we requested that barrier-free trade be the default for all goods and services and making sure your concerns stayed top of mind with government. We are now happy to see that the provinces and territories have taken important steps in this direction.

What It Means Today

After July 1, a few things became easier. It should be easier to bid on government contracts across the country, and to hire workers from other provinces and territories.

What Happens Next

July 1 also marked the creation of a “Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table” or RCT. This is a tool for the provinces and territories to align their regulations and eliminate barriers, taking concrete actions to help you do business across provincial boundaries.

We’ve pushed the premiers to address five priorities for small businesses like yours right away. These are:

  1. Simplifying corporate registration so businesses only need to register in one jurisdiction.
  2. Mutually recognizing food inspections so you don’t need to meet two sets of requirements for the same product.
  3. Aligning transportation regulations to make it easier and less expensive to move products.
  4. Creating common professional and trade licensing so workers can easily work in more than one province.
  5. Improving mutual recognition of Worker’s Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety to eliminate contradictory or confusing regulations.

Concrete action on these points would break down frustrating barriers for owners who want to do business across provincial boundaries.

How You Can Help

We’re only going to see action on this if the premiers know how regulations affect your business. We want to hear your horror stories of red tape, endless phone calls and indecipherable regulations.

Here are some examples members have shared with us in the past:

We had a considerably hard time bringing fresh goods like SUSHI into the NWT. This is because our supplier only has a provincial licence, and cannot ship across borders. I agree with food safety, but does it need to be to this degree?
Grocery Store, Northwest Territories

Worker's Compensation requirements vary for every province & territory. Our small company has to keep 7 provincial/territorial WCB policies open. We often only work a day or two in each jurisdiction. About 8 hours are required for each of the 8 bureaucratic (and different) administrators.
Airport Assessment Company, Alberta

Tell us your stories of frustration with regulations at 1-888-234-2232 or We will ensure that your concerns are communicated to government.