Farmers surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business say red tape is costing them time and money.
Ninety-five percent of the 261 farmer respondents in a larger CFIB survey said they could be more competitive if there was less red tape.
Virginia Labbie, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for agri-business, said this doesn’t mean deregulation or removing rules that protect food safety, but it does mean cutting extra paperwork and shortening wait times while on hold.
“Our farm members don’t have time to sit on the phone waiting for government to answer questions or fill out piles of confusing paperwork in the middle of calving or harvest,” she said. “This really is a significant drain on productivity and innovation.”
Overall, regulations cost small business, including farms, $36 billion annually, Labbie said. About $10 billion of that is unnecessary red tape.
When asked which federal agencies could remove red tape without negatively affecting health, safety and the environment, the top five responses were Canada Revenue Agency, Statistics Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Service Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Labbie said the CFIB has found that business owners get incomplete or wrong information from CRA about 40 percent of the time, which is a huge concern.
StatsCanada could refrain from sending mandatory surveys during busy times like seeding or calving, she said, while ECCC is tagged for the carbon tax.
Businesses that require temporary foreign workers say Service Canada could reduce the paperwork and time in the application process.
And, CFIA should enforce its rules with fairness and common sense, CFIB members said.
Provincially, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have both received A grades from CFIB for making red tape reduction a priority. Alberta has moved from a failing grade to a B minus.
The survey also found that that agri-business owners identified the benefits of reducing red tape as allowing them to spend more time running their business, reducing stress, spending more time with family and friends, giving them more time to explore innovation or expansion, and spending more time on projects in the community.
The CFIB surveyed 5,764 members in August and September for its red tape report. The organization has 110,000 members including 7,200 farm businesses.