The CEO Poll: Red tape

Canadian business leaders are skeptical of government plans to reduce the paper burden on small business.

The red tape burden on small business is serious, an impediment to innovation, and growing. But according to a recent poll of 122 Canadian business leaders by COMPAS Inc., a federal government initiative to reduce the regulations and paperwork will likely fail.

The majority of respondents said that regulations often reduce flexibility and innovative capabilities; that there is a lack of transparency in design, interpretation and enforcement; that regulations are often incompatible with prevailing market conditions, best business practices and efficient administration; and that regulations are often incompatible with the requirements of other domestic or international regulating regimes.

Most of the CEOs also said that, compared to a decade ago, the regulatory burden on small business is rising.

“Governments at all levels are far too demanding and intrusive when it comes to informational requirements of business,” wrote one respondent. “All of this is lost productivity which contributes not one nickel to wealth and job generation, and adds materially to our acknowledged productivity gap with competing jurisdictions.”

Ottawa’s pledge to reduce the paper burden was met with skepticism by most CEOs. Wrote one: “This is Canada. In Canada, every day a hundred committees pass a hundred more regulations for us to follow.”