Businesses encounter some form of red tape each and every day. Businesses have become so accustomed to navigating unfair, costly or contradictory rules and regulation that it becomes almost like breathing.
These costly obstructions are designed by good, well-intentioned people in all levels of government. Government bureaucrats see a problem and then develop rules and processes for solving it. Problem is, once set, these rules are rarely reviewed to see if they are still relevant and necessary. It’s harder to get rid of rules and processes than it is to create them in the first place.
To be clear, we need rules and regulations in society but regulations that no longer serve a legitimate purpose cost Canadian businesses money that could be invested in growth or passed on to consumers in lower prices. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimated in 2017 that red tape costs Canadian businesses $10 billion dollars. Unfortunately, the cost of regulatory compliance is much higher for small businesses and start ups than it is for large, established corporations.
A classic Canadian example of excessive red tape are the rules for transporting goods across the country that vary by province. Manufacturers looking to ship products between provinces are paying a hidden cost for stick handling around various rules that seem to serve no real purpose. Businesses operating in multiple provinces face red tape in the form of duplicated registration and reporting fees.
Governments around the world have grappled with the issue of red tape with varying degrees of success. The UK government, under Prime Minister David Cameron, managed to scrap 2,400 (10 per cent) regulations, saving businesses an estimated $78 million annually.
With the appointment of Grant Hunter as Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction and the introduction of the Red Tape Reduction Act in June, the new UCP government is signaling its commitment to trimming back unnecessary rules. The government intends to create an inventory of current regulations and assess whether they are effective and develop red tape reduction plans in all government departments. Hunter’s mandate is to reduce Alberta regulations by a third by 2020.
It’s an ambitious goal and they won’t get there without the help and support of industry. Entrepreneurs need to start taking note of rules and processes that seem pointless or excessive, and make sure that information is shared with the red tape reduction group.
No matter what level of government sets the regulation or how minor it is, if it’s a hindrance to doing business in any way, take note and speak out. You can even share it with our Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters team, and we’ll make sure it gets where it needs to go.
In the coming months the government promises to set up series of panels to consult with businesses in every sector and identify opportunities for streamlining. Let’s try to keep them busy.
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is the voice of Canadian manufacturing. CME represents more than 2,500 companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.