The Yukon received a D on the annual “red tape” report card from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. That puts the Yukon near the bottom of the pile, beating out only the F given to Manitoba.
The federal government, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and Alberta didn’t get grades because it was too soon after elections to evaluate those governments. Nunavut is also not on the list.
The federation considers red tape to include “anything from ridiculous rules that are not easy to follow, to poor customer service when trying to get answers and navigate government, right down to conflicting messages from different agencies,” said Amber Ruddy, CFIB’s Yukon director.
She said the federation is not talking about vital rules, like those around health and safety. Instead they are worried about excessive regulations that make things difficult for businesses.
“Business owners describe it as death by a thousand paper cuts.”
In the report card the Yukon gets credit for implementing recommendations from the small business red tape review conducted in 2014. That includes streamlining procurement and establishing a central point of contact for businesses.
But the territory has nothing in place to publicly measure the amount of regulations business owners have to deal with on a regular basis. In the jurisdictions that did well on the report card there is a legislated requirement to measure and report publicly at least once a year.
Last year’s mandate letter from the premier to the minister of economic development mentioned focusing on red tape. That’s good, Ruddy said, but is not the same as action.
This year’s grade is lower than in 2015 when the Yukon received a D+.
“Until we can see some measure and outcome that red tape is being reduced in the Yukon, the grade will not improve,” Ruddy said.
The government could introduce a sunset clause on regulations so they would expire after a set number years, she said.
Or it could consider a one-for-one rule, so that if a new regulation is introduced, one would have to be taken off the books.
The first step is to get a clear picture of how many regulations the Yukon has, “because if a business is not complying with a regulation, it’s usually because they’ve never heard of it,” she said.
“We want the government to do an exercise where they figure out all the rules and regulations that they’re requiring businesses to comply with and start setting reduction targets to make it more manageable.”