by Morinville News Staff

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, a 109,000-strong national organization, unveiled the most burdensome bureaucracies to businesses Jan. 20, the third day of their Red Tape Awareness Week.

The organization’s Paperweight Award cites what the CFIB see as the worst examples of government agencies and departments at all levels that are holding back small businesses with what CFIB sees as misguided rules, hard-to-follow processes, and bad customer service.

“This year’s Paperweight winners represent ‘specific irritants’ that are costing small businesses time and money,” said Satinder Chera, vice-president at CFIB in a Jan. 20 media release. “Whether it’s governments going back on their word, or forcing business owners to fill out online forms they don’t need to, or temporarily taking away a service without saying when it will be restored; these leading 2016 examples of red tape are ones that should be the easiest for government to fix.”

This year’s Municipal Winner was the Halifax Regional Municipality’s rules about restaurant patios, which CFIB refer to as the “Patio Police”.

“The new patio regulations are less clear than in the past, and responsibility for inspection and approval is now split over several different city departments, leading to unnecessary costs for business owners,” reads the release. They go on to say one restaurant whose patio railing had been bolted to the sidewalk for 20 years with city approval, was told to use cinder blocks to support the railing instead. Another restaurant which has a city-approved patio design was subsequently told the rail was a few inches too close to the sidewalk. CFIB says both received fines of more than $1000 and spent a similar amount to comply.

Ontario Recycling Authority took the Paperweight Award provincially this year for “wasting everyone’s time,” according to the CFIB.

“Manufacturers and importers are required to report on product packaging and recycling of printed paper to Stewardship Ontario through a long, poorly-designed online form,” reads CFIB’s report. “Small businesses in the industry that are not required to report have no way of knowing for sure what their obligations are until they start completing the online form.”

According to CFIB, the form abruptly stops after several sections without a clear explanation. Calls to Stewardship Ontario for clarification result in the business being told it is not required to report. They then have to find the poorly marked checkbox on the form which indicates that they are exempt.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) takes the federal award for dropping its small biz site

CFIB says the CBSA website’s small business section was “a key source for small business owners looking for information on trading with the United States.” The business organization says the section was dropped from their website, including the specific call centre number they had for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).

CBSA says the removal is temporary while they move to the consolidated Canada.gc.ca website, but CFIB says no timeline has been given, a situation that leaves small importers without access to government trade-related information.

CFIB’s full list of finalists for the 2016 Paperweight Award is located online at www.cfib.ca.

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