Council of the Federation meeting is the perfect opportunity for bold and decisive action on internal trade

Toronto, July 10, 2019 – At this week’s Council of the Federation (COF) meeting, Canada’s premiers need to show they remain committed to keeping progress on interprovincial trade on the front burner, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). 

“Provincial governments have made some progress. But there’s a lot more that needs to be done and without the strong will of the premiers we are worried that the good intentions behind CFTA won’t turn into a reality. We need faster action on irritants that we’ve been talking about for years such as being able to ship wine from one province to another,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president.

Since CFTA’s signing, the provinces and territories have tackled some issues like standards for tires and health and safety equipment. However, there are still piles of red tape and exceptions stifling the flow of goods and services within Canada’s borders. For example, only three provinces (Nova Scotia, Manitoba and British Columbia) allow direct-to-consumer shipment of wine from any other province and only two (Nova Scotia and Ontario) have moved to waive fees for registrations and renewals for businesses from any other jurisdiction. Additionally, residents in only four provinces (Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) can bring home alcohol from other provinces and territories for their own personal consumption without limits. In fact, when the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) was signed in 2017, there were 123 exceptions stalling trade of specific products, and there is no public information to suggest this has been reduced.

“CFIB is especially concerned about the fact that individual provinces and territories cannot remove their own exceptions without obtaining the consent of the other provinces and territories,” added Jones. “This kind of red tape goes directly against the spirit of CFTA and needs to be changed.”

To ensure the CFTA is successful, CFIB is recommending that premiers:

  • Make internal trade a standing item on the COF agenda and report annually on progress made to remove internal trade barriers
  • Allow provinces and territories to remove exceptions as they see fit, without needing approval from other jurisdictions
  • Move immediately on long-standing irritants in areas such as alcohol, labor mobility, transportation and construction

“When the CFTA was announced, we congratulated the trade ministers with our Golden Scissors Award, but we told them what was needed next was concrete action. Two years later, it’s time we see more action,” concluded Jones. “The changes CFIB proposes would be easy wins for Canada’s premiers and we’re hoping to see these changes very soon.”

Read CFIB’s table on select internal trade indicators for more information.

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