Producers lament red tape

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 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.

Statistics Canada could stop sending mandatory surveys during busy times like seeding or calving, she said, while Environment Canada 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.

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