Industry Canada

Industry Canada

May 01, 2008 11:55 ET

Government of Canada Moves Ahead to Cut Red Tape for Businesses

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 1, 2008) - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism), today announced that the Government of Canada is taking action to meet its commitment to reduce the paper burden for business by 20 percent this fall.

In September last year, 13 departments and agencies completed a baseline count of the obligations imposed on businesses in legislation, regulations, policies and forms. They are now implementing reduction plans toward the 20-percent target. This initiative is of particular importance for small and medium-sized businesses, which have limited resources to deal with administrative burden.

"The government understands the implications of the administrative paper burden on businesses' bottom lines. That is why we made a commitment to reduce paperwork, which includes streamlining government regulations, eliminating duplicate or overlapping obligations, and reducing the frequency of filing documents," said the Honourable Diane Ablonczy. "I am proud to report that we are rapidly and successfully moving forward on that commitment." Participating departments and agencies are pursuing various approaches to reduce paper burden, including streamlining their regulations, eliminating duplicate or overlapping obligations, and reducing the frequency of filing documents. Not only will this improve regulatory efficiency, but it will result in fewer obligations and simpler compliance rules for businesses.

Secretary of State Ablonczy also met today with the Advisory Committee on Paperwork Burden Reduction, co-chaired by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Industry Canada. The Secretary of State received the second progress report from the committee, which was created to advise the federal government on practical ways to reduce paperwork burden.

"We applaud the government's quick action to set a target to reduce paper burden by 20 percent and to make concrete moves such as streamlining the auto expense deduction," said Laura Jones, Vice-President, Western Canada, for the CFIB and Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Paperwork Burden Reduction. "Actions like these promise to save thousands of hours and improve Canada's economy."

"Our second report highlights the need to measure and control paper burden over the long term," she continued. "Establishing Canada as a world leader in effective, efficient and accountable regulation would be great branding."

In Advantage Canada and Budget 2007, the government committed to reducing the paperwork burden for business by 20 percent by November 2008. Budget 2008 reiterated this commitment and introduced a number of complementary measures to benefit small business.

Reducing paperwork burden is one of several initiatives the Government of Canada is undertaking to create an entrepreneurial advantage for Canadians.


BACKGROUNDER

Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative

Paperwork burden or "red tape" is the unproductive time and resources spent by businesses to understand and comply with rules and regulations. A 2001 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, entitled Businesses' Views on Red Tape: Administrative and Regulatory Burdens on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, found that small businesses face a disproportionate burden in complying with regulatory requirements as compared with larger businesses. This is particularly true for Canadian small businesses, given the cumulative requirements imposed by multiple orders of government.

The Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative (PBRI) was launched in 2005 with the aim of making measurable reductions in the paperwork burden faced by small business. An Advisory Committee on Paperwork Burden Reduction (ACPBR), comprising small business representatives and government officials, was created and mandated to find practical and actionable ideas for early implementation. The committee was also asked to develop a measure of paperwork burden so that progress could be tracked over time, and to report regularly on its work to the Minister of Industry. The PBRI has the following three components.

Advisory Committee on Paperwork Burden Reduction

The ACPBR is a public-private sector committee co-chaired by Laura Jones, Vice-President, Western Canada, of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Marie-Josee Thivierge, Assistant Deputy Minister, Small Business and Marketplace Services, Industry Canada. Other members include entrepreneurs and representatives from industry associations, provincial governments, and federal departments and agencies. The ACPBR tracks the cumulative impact of regulatory compliance on businesses of different sizes and identifies concrete initiatives for reducing this burden. The committee helps the Government of Canada develop effective and sustainable policies that consider the impact of regulatory burden. The scope of its work includes:

- gathering facts and assessing information relating to regulatory burden from stakeholders, such as industry associations, small business advisors and advisory committees, government departments and agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academia

- examining examples of international and national cooperation of administrative simplification strategies and practices and assessing their potential for application in Canada, including e-government and single-window access initiatives that demonstrate improvements in the timeliness, efficiency and predictability of regulatory services to business

- identifying and evaluating initiatives that could lead to burden reduction, such as regulatory flexibility (changing how compliance and enforcement services are delivered), regulatory tiering (varying requirements according to firm size), and broad-based approaches (integrated approaches that are applicable across government departments and agencies)

- implementing a triennial Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs, reviewing the results and making recommendations based on findings

- preparing and delivering timely reports for consideration by the Minister of Industry and tabling with parliamentary committees

Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs

Statistics Canada conducts a survey every three years that measures regulatory burden according to the sizes of the firms involved. The survey collects data on the cost of complying with federal, provincial/territorial and municipal regulations in the following categories:

- related to employees - payroll remittances, records of employment and workers' compensation

- related to taxation - T4 summary, T1/T2 income tax filing, goods and services/harmonized/provincial sales tax, and corporate tax instalments

- property taxes

- business operating licences and permits

- corporate registration

- mandatory Statistics Canada surveys

The first survey established a benchmark for measuring progress in meeting paperwork burden reduction targets. Results from the first survey results were made available in December 2006. Data collection for the repeat survey will take place in 2008-09, with results expected in 2009-10.

Regular Progress Reports

Reports to the Minister of Industry will include results from analysis undertaken by the ACPBR, progress made in burden reduction through initiatives implemented, and priorities for future work.


BACKGROUNDER

Paperwork Burden: 20-Percent Reduction Target

Paperwork burden is the time and money spent by business owners, managers, staff and external contractors and experts to understand and comply with information obligations or administrative requirements that stem from government regulations.

Through Advantage Canada, the government's long-term economic plan, a commitment was made to reduce paperwork burden by 20 percent. This commitment was in response to a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Paperwork Burden Reduction (ACPBR), which is co-chaired by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Industry Canada. In making this recommendation, the ACPBR's objective was to streamline, simplify and ease the overall cost of compliance for businesses. Reducing the administrative and paperwork burden on Canadian businesses can improve Canada's competitiveness, especially for our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.

Process

Budget 2007 indicated that, based on British Columbia's paperwork burden reduction strategy, key federal regulatory departments and agencies would be required by September 2007 to establish an inventory of administrative requirements and information obligations with which businesses must comply.

This inventory has been completed and comprises a comprehensive count of all requirements and obligations that existed as of November 1, 2006, in the consolidated statutes, regulations, related policies and forms for which the regulating departments and agencies are responsible, and with which all businesses (large or small) must comply.

The total count does not equate to the number of federal requirements with which any particular business must comply. Some requirements apply to a large number of Canadian businesses, while others apply to a very limited group of firms or defined set of circumstances.

Next Steps

Once the baseline was established, departments and agencies proceeded to identify which of their administrative requirements and information obligations would be eliminated in order to achieve the 20-percent reduction by November 2008. These plans are currently being implemented. Departments and agencies are also introducing complementary measures that may not reduce the number of requirements or obligations but that will ease the overall compliance burden on small business. These measures include simplifying existing administrative processes, creating single-window access to multiple government services, harmonizing definitions and requirements across departments or orders of government, and creating tools to provide relevant and timely information to entrepreneurs.

For example, Budget 2008 lightened the load on small businesses by simplifying compliance for those that claim the automobile expense deduction. It also announced broader use of the Business Number, which is the Canada Revenue Agency's main identifier for a specific business. This will allow greater information sharing between departments, facilitate integrated service delivery and reduce the compliance burden on business.

Another example is BizPaL, an online service that provides entrepreneurs with simplified access to the information on permits and licences they need to establish and run their businesses. This unique partnership among federal, provincial, territorial, regional and local governments is designed to cut through the paperwork burden and red tape that small businesses encounter.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice
    Minister of Industry
    Deirdra McCracken
    Press Secretary
    613-995-9001
    or
    Office of the Honourable Diane Ablonczy
    Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism)
    Catherine Godbout
    613-947-5856
    or
    Industry Canada
    Media Relations
    613-943-2502