CFIB Paperweight “Awards”: Warm plates, hazardous hand soap, and the Weed-Which-Must-Not-be-Named

CFIB’s 10th Red Tape Awareness Week™ showcases some of the worst government regulations and customer service

Toronto, January 21, 2019 – To kick off its 10th Red Tape Awareness Week™, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) presents its annual Paperweights which shines a light on the worst examples of red tape headaches for business owners across the country, ranging from the eye-rolling to the downright destructive. 

“This year’s crop of ‘winners’ includes silly restrictions on who can use the word ‘cannabis,’ Toronto’s archaic business licensing process, and BC’s new mandatory union rules for public projects, which specify, among other things, that employees must be served on warm dinner plates,” said Jordi Morgan, CFIB’s vice-president for Atlantic Canada. “The Paperweights are clear examples of unnecessary and excessive red tape. While some of the examples may seem trivial or laughable, the cumulative burden of red tape is no joke.” 

The full list of Paperweight ‘winners’ includes: 

  • The Town of Smithers, BC is back for a third year for a bylaw requiring businesses who do renovations valued over $100,000 to do unrelated offsite work as well, such as building a sidewalk that leads to nowhere.
  • British Columbia’s Community Benefits Agreement requiring construction firms working on provincial infrastructure projects to join specific unions and comply with 336 pages of overly prescriptive rules which go as far as demanding that dinner plates should be warmed before serving.
  • The City of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for its brutal lack of customer service to High Street West businesses affected by a painful and extremely delayed water main replacement.
  • The City of Toronto, for its new business licensing process, which can only be completed on paper, in person, at one location.
  • Quebec’s Liquor, Racing and Gaming Authority, for its incredibly stringent amusement regulations requiring businesses to obtain separate, costly and time consuming licenses for every bowling lane, pinball machine and pool table, and renew them annually.
  • Nova Scotia’s Occupational Health and Safety Division, for demanding employers apply strict hazardous materials handling guidelines to hand soaps and common household cleaners found in the workplace.
  • The Government of Canada, for its user-un-friendly websites, which are extremely hard to navigate, and make it difficult for small business owners to access the information they need.
  • Health Canada’s lack of clarity on the cannabis rules has led to officials in Newfoundland and Labrador restricting even the use of the word “cannabis” unless it is by licensed cannabis retailers.
  • Quebec’s Cannabis Regulation Act, which prohibited one craft brewer from using the word “cannabis” and associated imagery on the labels of his previously legal cannabis-flavored beer. In a catch-22, while producers can't use the word, Quebec’s liquor board says they must put “cannabis” on their labels.

“Governments can do a lot of good for small business owners if they take the time to track and reduce insidious red tape that can pile up without proper oversight” added Morgan. “Most of these examples could easily be fixed with a bit of common sense and foresight. We hope these agencies, governments and municipalities take notice of their Paperweight ‘win’ and challenge themselves to do better going forward.”

Business Owners’ Choice Paperweight
Business owners are invited to vote for their top Paperweight pick throughout the week at The results will be announced on CFIB’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts on Friday, January 25.

More details on the 2019 Paperweight ‘winners’ are available at

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members 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