CFIB announces finalists for Canada’s worst red-tape stories

Winner of the annual ‘Paperweight Award’ to be announced January 20th

Regina, January 14, 2016 – In the lead-up to Red Tape Awareness Week™ (January 18-22), the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has announced the finalists for its Paperweight Award, which is given annually to government agencies and departments that are holding back small businesses with misguided rules, hard-to-follow processes and bad customer service.

This year’s examples largely represent ‘specific irritants’ that are costing small businesses both time and money. “These smaller red tape problems should be the easiest for governments to fix,” said Satinder Chera, vice president at CFIB. “We’re often asked by politicians for specific examples of red tape they can deal with. Now we’ll see if they walk their talk.”

“For the second time, the requirement to get a permit to swap a statutory holiday from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Labor Relations & Workplace Safety is a finalist for CFIB’s Paperweight award. The first time was in 2014,” added Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president, Prairie & Agri-business.

In Saskatchewan, if an employee wants to observe a public holiday on a different day, the employer needs to apply for a special permit from the Ministry of Labor Relations and Workplace Safety. “In other provinces, the employee and manager can simply agree to swap days. That’s why it’s time for the Ministry to use common sense and scrap this dumb rule.”

Nominations were received from across the country and across all levels of government. The winner of the 2016 Paperweight Award will be announced on Wednesday, January 20th.

The finalists are:

Manitoba Ministry of Finance

Manitoba business owners with more than one business can be   subject to higher tax rates, but have no way of telling the Ministry until   tax season if they sell their business mid-year. Meaning some businesses continue   to pay more tax than they need to for up to a year.

Stewardship Ontario

Small manufacturers and importers in Ontario have to report   on product packaging and printed paper. Some are exempt, but have no way of   knowing until they fill out a long, poorly designed online form. Instead of   stating the exemptions up front, the form simply stops working, and instructs   users to call the agency for clarification. 

Halifax Regional Municipality

New ‘patio’ regulations forced two restaurants to pay more   than a thousand dollars to change the layout of their patios, which had   already been approved by the City.

Nova Scotia Department of   Natural Resources (DNR)

Contractors were forced to wait eight months for a building   permit to construct a wharf in Lunenburg County thanks to confusion between   the regional DNR office in Lunenburg and the head office in Halifax. The   wait-time far exceeded the 45-day turnaround advertised on the department’s   website and forced the company to lay off its employees.

Revenue Quebec

Construction companies and employment agencies must obtain   Revenue Quebec certification to show clients they have paid their taxes. The client then has to take that same certification back to Revenue   Quebec – the very same agency that issued the certification in the first   place – and have them verify that the certification is legitimate.

Saskatchewan Ministry of   Labor Relations and Workplace Safety

If an employee wants to observe a public holiday on a   different day, the employer needs to apply for a special permit from the   Ministry of Labor Relations and Workplace Safety. In other provinces, the   employee and manager can simply agree to swap days.

Canada Border Services   Agency (CBSA)

The CBSA dropped the small business section from their   website without warning, leaving small businesses without access to   government trade-related information tailored to small importers. While saying   it’s only temporary, no timeline has been given by the CBSA for restoring the   information.

Port Metro Vancouver   (Fraser Valley Port Authority)

The port authority implemented new rules, which essentially   excludes businesses with fewer than five trucks from accessing the port.   Along with enormous fee increases, these changes have disqualified 600 trucks   from working at the port. All of which was done without proper consultation.

Department of Citizenship   and Immigration Canada and Service Canada

Lack of communication between these federal departments   forced a Temporary Foreign Worker in Nova Scotia out of his job with a small   business, and nearly resulted in his deportation.

Insurance Corporation of   British Columbia (ICBC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

A Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) looking to enter the   trucking sector needs a work permit to get a driver’s licence. But, to get a driver’s   licence from ICBC, the TFW requires – you guessed it – a work permit from the   CBSA.

Government red tape is a hidden tax that affects Canada’s small businesses much more than larger firms. The annual cost of all regulations on businesses in Canada is pegged at $37 billion per year, with one-third of that ($11 billion) considered red tape.

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President Prairie & Agri Business, please call (306) 757-0000, 1-888-234-2232 or email You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

For further information please contact Ryan Mallough at 416-222-8022 or  

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region.