Mid-year red tape report mixed bag for region

A mid-year red tape report card from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the Atlantic provinces have good political leadership, but little implementation on reducing regulatory burdens on small businesses.

Grade is up from January's "F" because of HST introduction on P.E.I.

In its first-ever mid-year red tape report, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has given Newfoundland the highest grade in the Atlantic region: a B-minus. That grade was a slight reduction over its January result.

New Brunswick was given a C-minus, Nova Scotia a D-plus and Prince Edward Island a D.

CFIB called the results "mixed."

"Red tape can be a real headache for small business owners who spend a significant amount of time and money filling out paperwork, dealing with government auditors and inspectors, finding information, being put on hold and bounced around," said Leanne Hachey, CFIB's Atlantic vice president.

She said that cutting red tape is a low-cost form of economic stimulus and a boon for productivity, "an area where Atlantic Canada currently lags."

The report analyzed political leadership, public reporting, evaluation, constraints on regulators and a "legislated requirement to report on regulatory burden."


Prince Edward Island received a grade of D, the lowest mark in the Atlantic region, but an improvement over January’s F grade.

Leanne Hachey, the Atlantic vice president of CFIB, said the improvement for the Island was based on the provincial government’s announcement to bring in a harmonized sales tax. She said that change will greatly reduce red tape for Island businesses.

She also said she's encouraged by discussions with the provincial government. "They have actually tagged two people to oversee some changes on the red tape burden," she said.

"The people that we talked to seemed to understand the importance of measurement... setting targets for reduction and…publicly reporting it."

She said in order to get an A, the Island would need to implement those kinds of changes.

In January 2011, the provincial government received a grade of D. At the time, Finance minister Wes Sheridan said the low grade was mainly a result of the province not having harmonized sales tax.

"That is something that this province is not willing to give up to save a score in the red tape review," he said then. He said he wouldn’t bring in the HST because of concerns about its impact on low-income Islanders.

The report noted that government announced a red tape review in 2008 but no new announcements have since been made.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick was the highest graded Maritime province with a C-minus, a drop from its January C-plus grade.

According to CFIB, "New Brunswick has been showing signs of progress since its 2010 election commitment to reduce regulatory burden by 20 per cent, but has yet to provide a strategy to get there."

The organization said it would need to see a detailed plan for measuring and reducing the "overall red tape burden" in order to further increase the grade.

The report praised the province's political leadership but noted a lack of public reporting, measurement, and restraints on regulators.

According to the mid-year report, New Brunswick committed in 2010 to measure regulatory burden and reduce it by 20 per cent using a "one-in, one-out" rule requiring a piece of legislation dropped with each new one introduced.

But to date, no baseline measurements have been conducted.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia received an overall grade of D+, an improvement over January's D. Like New Brunswick, it was praised for its political leadership but lacked results to date.

The report states that the province has had no measurement of its regulatory burden since 2010; has committed to prevent regulatory growth but released no details on how to achieve that goal; and has introduced "several new onerous regulations" since 2010.