Red Tape Awareness Week, Jan. 11-15
TORONTO, Jan. 13 /CNW/ - With the country's first ever Red Tape Awareness Week now underway, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is proposing ten specific areas for governments to work on in 2010 that will lighten the $30 billion annual load for Canada's businesses.
According to CFIB's latest report, 81 per cent of small businesses believe that government does not consider the impact on business when it regulates. "Making progress on the list below would go a long way towards demonstrating that government values the critical contribution that small businesses make to Canada. It's not comprehensive, but it is a good start," said CFIB's vice-president of national affairs, Corinne Pohlmann.
1. Create a GST/HST Taxpayer Fairness Code - Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
should adopt a GST/HST Taxpayer Fairness Code. Complying with sales
tax rules is the top frustration of small business owners. Businesses
collect sales tax revenue on behalf of government and deserve good
customer service, including clear answers to questions in a timely
manner. The Tax Fairness Code should be modeled after BC's code where
business owners have the right to get questions answered in writing
and any written government tax advice will be respected even if it is
wrong. Taxpayers need to trust that if they have followed guidance
provided by CRA officials, they will not be penalized.
2. Create consistent definitions of employee and contractor status -
Provincial and Federal Governments should work together to have one
clear definition and ruling process to determine whether someone is
considered an employee or a contractor. Conflicting definitions
between CRA and provincial employment standards and workers
compensation create a major regulatory headache for many small
business owners. Simplifying this would save business owners
thousands of hours of work and needless frustration.
3. Simplify compliance for Automobile Expense Deductions - Finance and
Canada Revenue Agency should simplify compliance for the Automobile
Expense Deduction since maintaining a detailed logbook is the most
burdensome part of the motor vehicle tax provisions for small
business owners. In Budget 2008, the federal government committed to
work towards allowing a logbook to be used for a sample period of
time as representative of how a vehicle is used. Some progress has
been made to explore this, but nothing has been implemented.
4. Make Safety Management Systems (SMS) in the Aviation Industry small-
business friendly - Transport Canada should create workable Safety
Management Systems (SMS) in Canada's Aviation Industry for smaller
operators. SMS shifts the method of regulating safety from Transport
Canada to the companies themselves by imposing a large management
framework that is supposed to create a "culture of safety". The
problem is that the SMS framework was designed for large aviation
firms, such as airlines, which have been implementing it over the
last four years. Soon these same rules will apply to smaller aviation
businesses such as float plane operators, crop dusters and those that
service the industry. Many long standing businesses may go out of
business as a result of these unworkable rules. Expecting smaller
companies to implement a structured management system and provide
ongoing reporting will likely do very little to actually enhance
5. Introduce a single business license for mobile businesses - Municipal
governments should allow businesses that work in multiple
municipalities, like plumbers and other contractors, to have a single
business license. It's not uncommon for businesses that have to work
in multiple municipalities to be required to get up to a dozen
different business licenses. The Victoria region and the Okanagan-
Similkameen regions in BC have introduced a single business license
for mobile businesses. According to one business owner in Victoria,
the system has saved him the better part of a week. Revenues and
compliance have gone up in both regions.
6. Sign on to BizPal (municipalities that have not done so already) -
BizPal is a partnership between the Federal government and
participating Provinces and Municipalities. It is a program that
allows businesses to do one search for all of the required permits
and licenses to open a business. It reduces search time dramatically.
The time required to find permits to open a restaurant in one
municipality went from seven and a half hours down to 15 minutes.
7. Bring fairness and accountability to the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency (CFIA) - Agri-business owners understand that a certain amount
of regulation is important for food safety, but the CFIA could
significantly improve the way it interacts with small businesses. A
recent small business report card on CFIA found that fairness is
lacking and many feel they have no recourse when dealing with CFIA
authorities. A Food Producers' Ombudsman with real powers to oversee
how CFIA interacts with small businesses should be appointed.
8. Simplify the customs process - Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
should reform the Duty Drawback program. Claiming customs duty
refunds imposes such onerous paperwork burden on Canadian firms that
many smaller firms who import and export are forfeiting money owed to
them or choosing to operate in the US rather than in Canada. One
farmer has to fill out 400 forms for every container imported. His
paperwork then has to be stored for seven years. The government
should eliminate unnecessary duties and reduce record retention
requirements for remaining duties.
9. Simplify the Labour Market Opinion Process in Hiring Temporary
Foreign Workers - There have been several positive changes to the
Labour Market Opinion (LMO) and Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW)
systems, but many firms are still frustrated by the LMO process. A
positive LMO is required before an employer can hire a TFW. The LMO
is supposed to assess an employer's efforts to hire Canadians and
ensure adequate wages and working conditions for the TFW. Further
simplification by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
(HRSDC) of these rules is desperately needed (E.g. allowing renewals
of LMOs without having to repeat the entire process and extending the
expedited LMO pilot to all regions of Canada).
10. Create accountability surrounding government fees - The federal
government should implement Bill C-212, the Cost Recovery Bill (An
Act respecting User Fees). Bill C-12 was passed with support from all
parties in 2003. It is supposed to promote competitiveness and
innovation in Canada by ensuring that fees are reasonable, linked to
a service provided, and transparent to those that pay. Bill C-212 is
legislation, but has never been implemented.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Independent Business
For further information: For further information: regarding this list and Red Tape Awareness Week, please contact Adam Miller or Meghan Carrington at (416) 222-8022 or visit us at www.cfib.ca