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Fighting municipal 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. 

As all levels of governments shift their focus to help businesses recover, red tape reduction has never been more important or necessary. 

According to CFIB’s research, in Saskatchewan, federal, provincial and municipal regulations cost businesses $1.1 billion per year, of which $340 million is considered “red tape”. Reducing municipal red tape can give much needed time and money back to business owners.

At a municipal level, one significant area of red tape that many businesses and residents deal with though are municipal permits.  In fact, when we’ve asked business owners which municipal regulations were most burdensome for their business in terms of time and money spent on compliance. The majority of small business owners cited building and renovation permits, followed by business licensing. One in five cited land use development as the most burdensome regulations to their business. 

As we’ve heard for years, red tape is stifling growth, especially through permitting, in municipalities across Canada. As one small business owner said:

    “It is absolutely ridiculous what people go through in this City trying to get a permit.  This is having a major impact on our business. ”
    - CFIB member

    We recognize that some cities are undertaking work to streamline and improve some processes (e.g. the City of Saskatoon is streamlining its policies and requirements for infill developments in the Downtown core). However, CFIB is challenging municipalities across the province to place an emphasis on red tape reduction to afford businesses more time to spend growing the economy. 

    You can learn more by reading CFIB's Research Snapshot: The Cost of Government Regulation on Canadian Businesses.

    Our recommendations for how municipal governments can reduce red tape for small businesses, include: 

    • Reducing tape with a focus on making it easier for small businesses to operate during the recovery:
      • Focus on helping provide sector-specific relief, in particular, to those hardest-hit by the pandemic including in hospitality, arts and recreation, personal services, etc.;
    • Reducing their regulatory burden on small business (e.g. adopting a Direct Cost Estimator and reducing the time to obtain a commercial building permit to a maximum of 2 weeks);
    • Create an online portal so businesses can submit their red tape headaches and have them dealt with in a timely fashion.