Small biz to Gov: Ten red tape-trimming targets for 2010

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
        airline safety.

    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

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