Canadian Federation of Independent Business out with Paperweight Award finalist

The Canadian Federation of Business’s mock award for putting up red tape is likely something most government, big and small, would very much like to avoid.

Mock award calls attention to 'red tape'

Satinder Chera is vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. (CFIB)

The Paperweight Award is not coveted.

In fact, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business's mock award for putting up red tape is likely something most governments, big and small, would very much like to avoid.

"Red tape is anything from hard to follow rules and processes that governments put in place, to bad customer service, to rules that are a bit of a head scratcher," said the CFIB's Satinder Chera.

Here are the nominees:

Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety           

  • If an employee wants to observe a public holiday on a different day, the employer needs to apply for a special permit. In other provinces, the employee and manager can simply agree to swap days.

Manitoba Ministry of Finance

  • Nominated for a rule that forces companies with the same owner or owners to combine their payrolls to determine whether they need to pay additional tax leaving businesses stuck with the higher tax rates, for up to a full year.

Stewardship Ontario     

  • Nominated for asking small manufacturers and importers to report on product packaging and printed paper. Some are exempt, but have no way of knowing until they fill out a long, online form. Instead of stating the exemptions up front, the form stops working, and instructs users to call the agency.

Halifax Regional Municipality     

  • New so-called "patio" regulations forced two restaurants to pay more than a thousand dollars to change the layout of their patios, which had already been approved.

Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources  

  • Contractors waited eight months for a building permit to construct a wharf in Lunenburg County thanks to confusion between the regional Department of Natural Resources office and the head office. The wait-time exceeded the 45-day turnaround advertised on the department's website and forced the company to lay off its employees.

Revenu Québec              

  • Construction companies and employment agencies must obtain certification to show clients they have paid their taxes. The client then has to take that same certification back to the same agency that issued it in the first place to verify that the certification is legitimate.

Canada Border Services Agency

  • The CBSA dropped the small business section from their website, leaving small businesses without access to government trade-related information tailored to small importers.  

Port Metro Vancouver

  • New rules essentially exclude businesses with fewer than five trucks from accessing the port. Along with enormous fee increases, these changes have disqualified 600 trucks from working at the port.

Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Service Canada               

  • Lack of communication between these federal departments forced a Temporary Foreign Worker in Nova Scotia out of her job with a small business, and nearly resulted in her deportation.

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and the Canada Border Services Agency          

  • In B.C., a temporary foreign worker looking to be a truck driver needs a permit to get a driver's licence. But, to get a permit from the CBSA, the worker requires a driver's license from ICBC.

While the CFIB's Paperweight Award is a light hearted approach, Chera suggested red tape is serious business.

"Complying with regulations from all levels of government cost businesses about $37 billion a year, of that amount we acknowledge that not all regulations are red tape but about $11 billion of that is what we would put in that category of silly rules, outdated processes, things that government can go about fixing without having an impact on public health and safety."

The winner will be announced on Jan. 20, 2016.


  • A previous version of this story listed Satinder Chera as the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The story has been updated to reflect he is the vice-president of the CFIB.
    Jan 18, 2016 9:31 AM CT


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