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2020 Red Tape Challenge: Axe the fax

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CFIB urges governments across Canada to embrace digital modernization

Regina, January 22, 2020 – It’s time for governments to ditch their fax machines and outdated paper forms and embrace digital technology, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). As part of its 11th annual Red Tape Awareness Week™, CFIB is posting an open letter to all governments challenging them to take at least one meaningful step to modernize in 2020.

“We see governments starting to take steps to modernize and we want to see more of that and see it across the board. It’s crazy that in 2020 some business owners keep a fax machine solely to deal with governments or have to stand in line for a simple business licence application. This kind of red tape costs Canadians and small businesses countless hours of wasted time and frustration,” said Jordi Morgan, CFIB’s vice-president for Atlantic Canada. “Imagine if every government, from the federal and provincial down to all municipalities, moved one process, one form or one fee online this year. It’s a small ask, but the effects would be huge.”

In a recent survey, CFIB received hundreds of comments from business owners about antiquated rules and procedures they run up against that make no sense in the 21st century. In its open letter, CFIB cites some examples of actions governments can take to accept the challenge:

  • Putting most commonly accessed forms online, and making sure they are easy to find and that they can be submitted fully online.
  • Making payment options available online.
  • Eliminating the need to have a fax machine to deal with government.

As governments digitize, they should also improve their standard of customer service by ensuring that websites are easy to navigate, links are up-to-date and someone is available to help or answer questions when something goes wrong. Governments should also maintain options for those without access to high-speed internet.

Government of Saskatchewan takes steps forward to reduce red tape by embracing modern technology

Tax filings made easier and less costly for Saskatchewan businesses: Last week the province announced that effective April 1st, the threshold amounts for businesses that file returns for the Provincial Sales Tax, Liquor Consumption Tax, and the Beverage Container Program will be raised and the due dates for electronic filers will be extended from the 20th to the last of the month.  “This is a good example of the province embracing digital technology by encouraging businesses to switch to electronic filing,” said Jennifer Henshaw, CFIB’s Senior Policy Analyst, Prairie.

Saskatchewan’s “Help Cut Red Tape” Web Portal lets business owners fast-track their red tape concerns: On January 22, 2019, the Government of Saskatchewan launched its new ‘Help Cut Red Tape’ web portal on saskatchewan.ca, which is available to all Saskatchewan citizens and businesses. The portal offers businesses and citizens an online platform to provide feedback on red tape concerns they have encountered with the provincial government. “Rather than waiting for government consultations, all Saskatchewanians can instantly report red tape irritants, 24-7, directly to the government through the web portal,” added Henshaw.

In previous years, governments have taken up CFIB’s Red Tape Challenges to address internal trade barriers and adopt a one-in-one-out rule for new regulations.

“We have always been ambitious with our challenges to government. This year, we’re asking for something much smaller, but that could really change the way governments serve Canadians and small business owners on a day-to-day basis,” added Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president. “It’s time for governments to go from in-line to online and give Canadians the greatest gift of all—the gift of time.”

Join the conversation online with the hashtags #redtape and #axethefax.

CFIB’s 11th annual Red Tape Awareness Week™ encourages governments across the country to take the initiative and launch their own red tape reduction strategies. Regulations cost small businesses $36.2 billion annually, $10 billion of which is unnecessary red tape, according to CFIB’s research. To learn more visit CFIB.ca/redtape and follow #redtape.

To arrange an interview with Jennifer Henshaw, CFIB’s Senior Policy Analyst, Prairie, please call (306) 757-0000 or email [email protected]. You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.