Red tape costs small businesses time and money, local business owners say — and they didn’t hesitate to tell the federal government so Friday morning.
Representatives of the St. John’s-area small business community met with Rob Moore, minister of state (small business and tourism) and members of the Red Tape Reduction Commission at the Ramada hotel, to discuss challenges they face with federal red tape.
The commission, chaired by Moore, is holding consultations with business owners during a series of discussions across the country in an effort to identify irritants stemming from federal regulatory requirements. The 12-person commission will compile a report based on what it hears and will present recommendations to government this fall.
Among the concerns raised by the businesspeople were overlap and duplication between the federal and provincial governments and insufficient information when it comes to business requirements.
“Some of (the concerns) were more detailed on specific forms and specific filing requirements, but we heard some really good feedback,” Moore said.
“The prime minister, when he launched the commission last month, made it very clear that he sees red tape as a job killer. That was certainly reinforced in what we heard today from the participants — they made it pretty clear that time they spend filing out forms and dealing with unnecessary red tape is time taken away from growing their business and supporting their employees and their families.”
Bradley George, director of provincial affairs for the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, stressed that when it comes to small businesses, time is money, and time spent completing the same surveys over and over is money wasted.
“Time is like a tax,” he explained. “When a business owner has to spend time taking care of red tape, that’s money spent taken away from a business, money that can be invested back into a business, back into jobs, money that can be invested back into wages.
“We’re not advocating for the elimination of regulation; what we’re looking for is smart tape.”
The commission’s mandate is clear when it comes to checks and balances: it isn’t about reducing necessary requirements or lowering safety standards, Moore said.
“What this is about is needless red tape, requirements that are too onerous, overlap and duplication, where it can be eliminated, and particularly also about the manner in which people get service; how they’re treated when they do go to government looking for service,” he said.
An online consultation process, for businesspeople unable to attend the discussions, is taking place at www.reduceredtape.gc.ca.