By Naomi Yamamoto
Minister of State for Small Business
January 28, 2013
VICTORIA - Did you know that one of the biggest barriers that small-business owners face is unnecessary red tape? B.C. is leading the country in the fight against red tape, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has recognized that by giving B.C. an "A" in its annual report card, which grades provinces on their efforts to cut red tape. B.C. is the only province in the country to receive an "A" this year.
In recognition of the importance of reducing red tape and regulatory requirements, British Columbia has officially proclaimed Jan. 21-25 Red Tape Awareness Week in B.C.
As Minister of State for Small Business, I hear one thing over and over again from our business community - time spent filling out forms is time away from improving and growing their businesses. Our government remains committed to reducing red tape, streamlining, and simplifying processes to make it easier and less costly to access government services and comply with government requirements.
The numbers tell the story. We're the first government in Canada to enshrine in law the requirement to publish annual reports about regulatory reform. We've reduced regulatory requirements by over 42 per cent since 2001 - that's more than 155,000 off the books. We've also committed to a net-zero increase in regulatory requirements through to 2015.
A great example of our efforts is the New West Partnership Commercial Vehicle website. In June of 2012, service to commercial vehicles was drastically improved when a new cross-jurisdictional website was launched. The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, together with the Province of Alberta's Ministry of Transportation and Saskatchewan's Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, created a single user-friendly website for the trucking industry to access information on permits, routes and other commercial vehicle information.
This website represents a new, more efficient approach to service delivery by making it faster and easier for commercial transporters to get the information they need from all three provinces in one place. Information includes permits, policies, route information, legislation, regulations, load restrictions, weigh scale locations, commercial vehicle enforcement, licensing and insurance information, as well as any approvals needed and the necessary forms.
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation estimates that the site will reduce time spent accessing information by a minimum of 65 per cent.
CFIB has recognized B.C. for its achievements as well. Premier Christy Clark and the Western Premiers have been nominated for this year's Golden Scissors Award for the New West Partnership Agreement and related initiatives, with the winners to be announced on Jan. 25.
The Golden Scissors Award recognizes politicians, public servants, or other Canadians who have successfully motivated or demonstrated leadership and courage, and produced meaningful and positive results in cutting red tape for small business.
And B.C. continues to be recognized as an international leader in regulatory reform as well. Both Queensland, Australia and the State of California are consulting with British Columbia on various regulatory reform initiatives, and Queensland will be implementing regulatory count programs modeled after B.C.'s programs.
In B.C. we are committed to open and accountable governance through transparency, participation, and collaboration in regulatory reform. So how exactly are we doing this?
We have updated our Regulatory Reform Website to provide detailed information on how we count regulatory requirements. The website also provides information on citizen-centred regulatory reform and other government streamlining initiatives. The annual report on regulatory reform progress is also posted on the website.
B.C.'s Regulatory Count database is now available to the public for the first time on the DataBC website. You can now find information online on current and historical regulatory requirements data.
We're also inviting business owners to comment on those regulations that create unnecessary headaches. You have to deal with regulations every day. You are the experts. And that is why we want to hear from you. That is why we've created 'Have your Say' so you can tell us:
- Which requirements are working and which ones are not.
- What should be simplified.
- What processes should be streamlined.
- What requirements are outdated and in need of review.
The link to access Have Your Say is: www.gov.bc.ca/regulatoryreform. With the business community's input, we can make informed decisions and ensure regulations are developed with citizens and businesses in mind.
We're not stopping yet. We're announcing our commitment to working with the CFIB to canvass the small business community over the next few months and identify additional issues with red tape and regulatory requirements and we'll take those ideas back to the business community to find solutions.
As we look ahead, I'm confident that the steps we're taking now are the best way to make the B.C. the most business-friendly jurisdiction in Canada. As small business makes up 98 per cent of the business in B.C., it is incredibly important to make sure that they are working in an environment that supports their continued growth and success.
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour
Minister of State for Small Business