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Paperweight awards shame Canada's worst red tape offenders

As Red Tape Awareness Week comes to a close, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today announced the recipients of its first ever Paperweight Awards.

The dubious honours go to two programs that "making life even harder for small businesses through rules and red tape: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and Multi-Material British Columbia (MMBC).

"Red tape impacts Canadian small businesses to the tune of $31 billion a year, but it's not one big problem. It's thousands of smaller problems, spread out over every jurisdiction," said Laura Jones, executive vice-president at CFIB. "The Paperweight Award gives us a chance to highlight some of the more egregious examples, and frankly, to point some fingers. Who exactly is weighing down small business? This year's winners are certainly not lightening the load."

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The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

The TFWP, a program jointly administered by two federal government departments that is maddening at the best of times, has added new requirements, fees and longer wait times. These changes were a knee-jerk reaction to media stories of misuse of the program by a few big businesses and banks, but threaten to drive some small enterprises, that rely on the program and are using it appropriately, out of business.

 

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Multi-Material British Columbia (MMBC)

MMBC, a not-for-profit body that reports to the British Columbia government, will soon become a recurring red tape nightmare for businesses in that province. As of this May, businesses in B.C. will have to weigh, measure and report the volume of all their packaging to MMBC. For their trouble, they will get a bill to pay for disposal. Entrepreneurs are more than a little nervous about giving this kind of blank cheque to an arms-length government body with little in the way of accountability. Similarly heavy-handed “green” initiatives are already making small business owners see red in Ontario, and more are popping up across the country.

In addition to the winners, three Dishonourable Mentions for this year’s Paperweight Award go to:

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Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety

For making it mandatory to get a permit to swap statutory holidays for other days off work. This unnecessary piece of red tape has restricted Saskatchewan employers (and, in turn, their employees), from having more flexibility in the workplace.

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Ontario Ministry of Labour

As of 2013, it is mandatory for directors, owners and independent contractors in the construction industry (including one-person firms) to buy Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage and pay premiums on their personal income. This has cost the smallest of businesses thousands of extra dollars for coverage that many of them already had.

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Quebec Ministry of Labour

Provincial legislation from the 1930s still governs every aspect of the hairdressing industry in the Outaouais region. Meant to protect hairdressers, the only real impact of the regulations is that it is impossible to get a haircut in the region on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening.
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