Limiting regulations in this province is about to become law in this province, bringing accolades from business groups who say red tape costs billions per year.
The B.C. government will pass legislation requiring an annual report on regulation, making it the first government in Canada to enshrine regulatory accountability in law, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon announced this week.
The announcement was timed to coincide with the ten year anniversary of the province’s red tape reforms and the provincial declaration of 2011 as the Year of the Entrepreneur.
“B.C. is showing incredible leadership by effectively saying we understand red tape is a huge hidden tax and we are going to hold ourselves accountable for it. This is a vital win for small business owners whose lives are made miserable by red tape from all levels of government,” said Laura Jones, sr. vice-president, research, economics and Western Canada for the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB).
CFIB estimates that red tape costs Canadian businesses $30 billion a year. Seventy per cent of business owners say red tape causes them significant stress and 62 per cent say it takes time away from family.
Other provinces including Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have introduced regulatory reforms in the past five years but nothing is permanent. “Red tape initiatives tend to be here today, gone tomorrow,” said Jones. “Any government that is truly serious about creating an environment for entrepreneurship to flourish will follow B.C.’s lead.”
The Federal Government announced a Red Tape Reduction Commission in January based on the B.C. model with a promising mandate to be more than temporary. At the local level, the City of Surrey has shown leadership with its own commission and Mayor Dianne Watts seems determined to make it stick.
British Columbia started its regulatory reform program in 2001 when it committed to reduce red tape by one-third in three years. It met that commitment and has now reduced red tape by 42 per cent since 2001 while maintaining safety, health, and environmental protection. For every new regulatory requirement introduced in the province, one has to be removed, a commitment that was extended from 2012 to 2015 as part of today’s announcement. It is the longest running regulatory reform exercise in Canada’s history.
“Permanently controlling red tape promises huge rewards—more creativity, lower prices, more jobs and more time for family. It’s exciting to imagine a country where this is possible and B.C. is leading the way,” said Jones.