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

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After years of CFIB’s advocacy, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement came into effect on July 1, 2017! 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.

We have fought for you on this issue since 2008, when we started calling for a new internal free trade agreement. We are now happy to see that the provinces and territories have taken important steps in this direction.

l’édition spéciale du prix Coupe-paperasse d’or

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

Issuing a challenge to the premiers

For Red Tape Awareness Week 2018, we challenged the premiers to address three key pain points right away to take CFTA from words to action. We recommended:

  • A common corporate registry, so you don’t need to register one business multiple times in different provinces.
  • Aligning regulations for wide-load transportation, to eliminate cases where a difference of inches can cost you thousands of extra dollars.
  • Broadening mutual recognition of trade and professional certifications, so elevator technicians and dental hygienists, for instance, can work in different provinces without having to get re-certified.

We also recommended:

  • Mutually recognizing food inspections so you don’t need to meet two sets of requirements for the same product.
  • Improving mutual recognition of Worker’s Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety to eliminate contradictory or confusing regulations.

The provinces have until the end of 2018 to make meaningful progress on these items. Let’s see if they are up to the challenge!

What it means today

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

A “Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table” or RCT was also created when the agreement was implemented. 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.

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