Government needs to cut red tape, Surrey Board of Trade survey indicates. ( Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Government red tape choking Surrey businesses, survey indicates

About 1,500, or 25 per cent of 6,000 of Surrey Board of Trade’s business contacts, respond to survey

It might come as no surprise, but government red tape is even more tangly than it was this time last year.

Or so indicates the Surrey Board of Trade, which released its second annual Red Tape Survey on Tuesday.

Roughly 1,500, or 25 per cent of the 6,000 board’s business contacts, responded to this year’s survey and 87 per cent of those who participated reported regulatory requirements at all levels of government “had a moderate to major impact on their daily operations, an increase of seven points over 2017.”

“Overall, roughly half to two-thirds of those responding rated a number of agencies and regulatory requirements as having moderate to high levels of red tape,” the executive summary states. “The CRA and PST were most problematic.”

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Response to this year’s survey increased by 52 per cent over last year. Of those, 56 per cent say they’ve been spending increasingly more time filling out government forms over the past two years and 78 per cent found paying taxes “to be a moderate to high cost of doing business.” That’s up from 56 per cent last year.

“Given that an increasing number of our respondents are finding regulatory compliance is impeding innovation and growth, it is not unreasonable to consider that it may likewise create disincentives for the broader business community,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the board. “Red tape reduction is a low-cost way to stimulate the economy and boost productivity.”

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Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. (Submitted photo)

The survey found that all levels of government “rated low” for communication but there was some improvement at the federal and mostly at the city level. “Provincially, there is a strong trend towards inadequate,” the report indicates. “While there is no clear connection, the introduction of new taxes for development speculation and the employer health tax may have had an impact. Regardless, there is much room for improvement for all governments.”

Consequently, the board of trade is recommending that governments reduce the number of times businesses have to report the same information, use clearer language, improve online and call centre services, and streamline their info-gathering technology to trim duplication.

Simple aggravation aside, 39 per cent of respondents reported spending up to five hours each week jumping through government hoops, and some respondents said it took up more than 20 hours per week of their time.

Which government agencies have the most red tape? Ninety per cent said the Canada Revenue Agency has moderate to high levels of tape, 36 per cent said the Canadian Border Services Agency has high levels of red tape. Forty-six per cent, however, “found getting resolution for complaints at City Hall to moderate to be moderate to high.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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