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How we’re fighting against red tape to make it easier to do business

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As a small business owner, you face government red tape everywhere you turn. From filling out long forms to paying taxes, excessive rules and regulations not only waste precious time, but cost you a lot of money. Our research has found that red tape actually costs small businesses like yours more per employee than large firms.

You’ve told us that cutting government red tape is a priority for you, so we’ve fought hard at every level to reduce your paper burden. 

Here are some of the ways we’re working to reduce red tape:

Government regulations

Reducing red tape isn’t always a top priority for governments, which is why we created Red Tape Awareness Week and publish an annual Red Tape Report Card: to focus their attention on what matters to you.  

Through our relentless advocacy work, we’ve been able to score some important national wins:

  • The One-for-One Rule: For every new federal regulation created, the government must eliminate an equal regulatory burden. This law also requires government departments to publish any cost savings or increases to businesses for every regulatory change.
  • The Small Business Lens: Every time the federal government wants to implement a new regulation, they have to do an analysis on whether it is necessary and how complex it is for small businesses.

But there’s still work to do! Currently the One-for-One rule and the Small Business Lens only apply to regulations. So we’re pushing to have the federal government include policies and legislation (like the Income Tax Act), which can add considerable red tape to your business. 

Canada Revenue Agency

Navigating all your complex tax obligations is one of the biggest burdens for your business, which is why CRA is a major focus for us. When it comes to taxes, red tape isn’t just all the forms you fill out or the rules you have to follow—it can also include bad customer service and not being able to access accurate information.

CFIB has fought hard for service improvements at CRA, including:

  • Working with CRA to create the online tool, My Business Account, which includes being able to electronically ask questions and get answers from CRA that will be honoured by even if CRA’s answer is later found to be incorrect in an audit. 
  • The ability for your business to distribute T4 slips electronically to employees, saving you time and money.
  • Ensuring that CRA letters and the website are in plain language so that you can easily understand the information and your obligations.
  • Evaluating the CRA call centres, which has brought significant improvements to services for small businesses. 

Check out our post on other ways we’re fighting for fairness at CRA.

Barriers to trade

Doing business in another country, or even in another province, can be complicated. Redundant or contradictory regulations make trade costly and time consuming – discouraging many business owners from even bothering to work across borders.

CFIB is fighting to reduce red tape barriers to trade both at home and abroad:

  • The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) signed in July 2017 aims to make it easier for you to do business anywhere in Canada. However, there remains a lot of work to do and we are pushing the provinces and territories to take concrete action to align their regulations and eliminate barriers. 
  • The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) helps to open new markets in Europe for your business! The new agreement specifically seeks to streamline regulations between Canada and the European Union, saving you time and money. Here are six ways that CETA will make it easier to do business in Europe. 
  • While the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations with the U.S. and Mexico are ongoing, CFIB is working hard to bring your business’ voice to the table! So far, we’ve been able to score a big win: the updated agreement will include a chapter focused on small businesses. Learn more about what NAFTA means for your business here.

Do you have an international trade barrier holding back your business from exporting? Let the government know about your red tape irritants by registering your barrier and getting help from the Trade Commissioner Service here.  

Got a red tape headache? Do you have an example of a dumb or ridiculous rule that you think should be fixed? Call us today - we want to hear your examples, big or small, about a confusing process, unclear rules or poor customer service.