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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.
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:
We also recommended:
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.
Supreme Court case puts onus on provinces
The Comeau case was based on a New Brunswick retiree, Gerald Comeau, who was fined for purchasing alcohol in Quebec and transporting it over the border between the two provinces. He challenged the fine and his case went all the way up to the Supreme Court. This case had major implications not just for alcohol, but for Canadian free trade in general.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Comeau. The court’s decision does push the needle in the right direction, but it does not completely address the barriers that continue to exist between the provinces. Now it is up to the provinces to come up with a solution to eliminate these barriers through channels such as the Canadian Free Trade Agreement which had established the Alcoholic Beverages Working Group which is to report later this year.
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?
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.