CFIB announces Paper Weight Awards for most absurd red tape regulatrions

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by Staff

On day two of Red Tape Awareness Week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) was awarded a triple crown to the Government of Canada for the most absurd regulations. The CBSA, Health Canada, and Finance Canada all took awards this year from the business advocacy group.

CFIB awarded its  Paper Weight Award to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for what it says is CBSA’s burdensome and unfair decision resulting in new, hefty import duty fees for a small business. CFIB said The Costume Shoppe in Calgary faced potential closure and at least $100,000 in import duty fees because the CBSA changed the classification on his imported themed costumes from “festive wear” to fancy dress.

“Two-word changes have created a regulatory and costly nightmare for this small business,” said CFIB Alberta Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Sennyah. “The change essentially means that a Santa suit or scary ghost mask are considered the same as regular clothing people wear every day. I think it’s pretty clear to everyone, but the CBSA, that themed costumes are not intended for everyday wear.”

CFIB says the shop has to refile previous inventory of more than 2500 items, even if those goods are no longer being imported. In order to appeal the CBSA and he can’t appeal the CBSA’s decision until the fees are paid.

“The government has much bigger issues to deal with than focusing on this. It seems like a colossal waste of time and money for the government, and for us,” said shop owner Ryan Schoel in a CFIB media release. “I have been importing my costumes for many years in good faith. Either everyone from major retailers to simple independents need to play under the same rules, otherwise being singled out is simply unfair.”

Health Canada and Finance Canada were also finalists this year for the annual awareness award.

Their plan to introduce a new cost recovery process for the natural health products (NHP) industry with paperwork challenges and excessive fees to get a product into the Canadian market earned them second place. Natural Health Products will also soon require standardized label requirements, including minimum type face and font styles.

Finance Canada took third place for making payroll services subject to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), a change that means more paperwork for small businesses using payroll services. CFIB says the move duplicates existing anti-money laundering controls used by banks.

“If the CBSA, Health Canada and Finance Canada had first considered how their new rules would impact small businesses, we wouldn’t be in this regulatory mess. We’re asking these government organizations to do the right thing and fix the fallout by applying our clear and simple solutions,” said CFIB director Julie Kwiecinski.

More info on CFIB’s Red Tape Awareness Week and Paper Weight Awards are available at


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