Six red tape rules that make no sense

redtape2015_EN_l244Even if you’ve just started your business, you probably already know about red tape. And I’m not talking about the regulations that protect consumers, the environment etc. I’m talking about actual RED TAPE. Yeah, that’s what we call all those silly rules, confusing forms, unhelpful call centre agents. Basically all the things that governments and regulatory agencies do that don’t help protect anyone, and just make your life as a business owner harder than it has to be.

Even before you start up, you might have to navigate government processes like incorporation, applying for professional licensing, building and other permits. All these can be time-consuming, often confusing, and could certainly stand to be made easier and more straightforward. The problem is, they are only the beginning. Even veteran business owners deal with red tape, and it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you go along.

CFIB hears about many of these government hassles through our Business Resources call centre. Our member businesses call for help with everything from hiring employees, to renovating, to filing their taxes. Every one of these business processes has associated government and/or regulatory processes, some of which are straightforward, many of which are anything but. Our experienced Business Counsellors can usually help, but red tape always makes it harder to run your business.

To get in you in the spirit of Red Tape Awareness Week™, we thought we’d share six crazy government rules and processes that make no sense and hurt small businesses like yours:

  1. If you employ members of your family, they usually aren’t eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) if you lay them off, but you still have to pay premiums for them.
  2. In BC, if you hire a Temporary Foreign Worker as a trucker, they need to have a work permit to get a drivers’ license, but they need a drivers’ license to get a work permit.
  3. Small manufacturers and importers in Ontario have to fill out a long and confusing recycling form, just to tell the government that they are exempt from completing that very same form.
  4. In Halifax, inspectors responsible for enforcing rules about restaurant patios have forced restaurant owners to re-install their patio railings after they’ve been approved by the city.
  5. A federal port authority in Vancouver changed its rules so that small trucking companies can no longer access the port, losing any business they had there.
  6. Construction firms and employment agencies in Quebec need to prove to clients that they pay their taxes. Clients, whether they care or not, have to confirm with the government.

Check out our Paperweight award finalists for more examples of red tape for Canada’s small businesses.

Every week in every jurisdiction across the country, CFIB representatives are meeting with city councilors, MLAs, MPs, mayors, ministers and premiers about issues that matter to our members. Often those discussions include red tape. Among small business owners in Canada, it is consistently identified as the second biggest obstacle to business success, so we work with government decision-makers to try to make life easier for you.

And just to make sure the politicians can’t ignore us, we hold Red Tape Awareness Week every year in January. We highlight some of the worst examples of red tape, we grade the federal government and each of the provinces based on how much red tape they create for small business, we recognize politicians who are working to make the problem better, and we shame politicians that are making it worse.

Check out to learn more, or call our Business Resource line at 1‑888‑234‑2232 if government is driving you crazy with red tape.

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