Addressing inter-provincial trade barriers vital for small business
Toronto – As Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments prepare to implement the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) as a birthday gift for the nation on July 1st, CFIB has identified five immediate priority areas for the newly-formed Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table (RCT) to tackle.
“The devil is in the details,” said Laura Jones, CFIB executive vice president. “CFTA is a huge accomplishment, and we want to celebrate this agreement, especially in light of Canada 150. Now the hard work begins. The deal will only succeed if the various jurisdictions can effectively find mutually beneficial solutions to make trade within Canada easier for small businesses.”
Provincial, territorial and federal officials will use the RCT to tackle the obstacles to doing business inter-provincially across Canada, one by one.
“If the premiers can maintain this momentum, the agreement will provide the federal, provincial and territorial governments with an unprecedented opportunity to drive significant economic growth by reducing trade barriers within Canada,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB senior vice president of national affairs. “We are now looking to the RCT to make sure that the framework put together in the CFTA works on the practical level for Canada’s small businesses.”
Five mission-critical priorities requiring immediate action
CFIB has sent a letter to each of Canada’s premiers and the Prime Minister, congratulating them for this historic agreement and urging them to quickly address key areas identified by small business owners as being the most significant impediments to interprovincial trade when the RCT group convenes:
1) Simplify corporate registration – Small businesses wanting to do business in another province that does not recognize their existing registration need to pay hundreds of dollars in order to do so and complete extra, often duplicative paperwork, just to get their goods across the border. CFIB calls for a common corporate registry, or mutual recognition between jurisdictions.
2) Mutually recognize food inspections – Some food products are easier to import from other countries than from other provinces. CFIB calls for mutual recognition of food inspections and related regulations. If a food product is deemed safe to consume in one province, it should be considered safe to consume in another.
3) Align transportation regulations – Getting a product from one end of the country to the other is unnecessarily expensive in Canada and adds to up to real costs for consumers, sometimes in the thousands of dollars. CFIB urges all parties to consider aligning wide-load regulations, implementing single-trip fuel permits and recognizing commercial vehicle registrations, among other suggestions.
4) Create common professional and trade licensing – A worker certified in one province is still not able to easily work in another. It should be much simpler for professionals and skilled tradespeople to go where the work is, but regulations often get in the way. CFIB calls for further cooperation and mutual recognition of certifications and professional designations.
5) Improve mutual recognition of Worker’s Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety – Each jurisdiction mandates different types of fall protection even though the force of gravity does not change by province. The rules vary considerably between jurisdictions and businesses with workers in multiple jurisdictions needing to register with each Worker’s Compensation Board and/or safety body. CFIB calls for better alignment of rules and mutual recognition of provincial and territorial registration.
CFIB looks forward to participating in the RCT stakeholder group, and urges the federal, provincial and territorial governments to remain focused on reducing red tape and other governmental barriers to small business trade.
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.