Province Supporting Business by Reducing Red Tape, Op-Ed

NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece from Premier Stephen McNeil about Red Tape Awareness Week, which runs from Jan. 22-26.

A vibrant and growing economy is a critical part of a strong province. It’s the foundation for safe and connected communities, our health and well-being, and educating and training our youth for the future.

While we see the private sector taking the lead in spurring economic activity, government can help create a business climate that supports economic success.

That includes developing and maintaining an efficient regulatory system that protects consumers, citizens, workers and the environment without creating unnecessary complexity or cost to business. And, it includes working with our Atlantic neighbours to harmonize and co-ordinate business rules where it makes sense.

In January, we recognize Red Tape Awareness Week – a week the Canadian Federation of Independent Business created 10 years ago to shine a light on the burden of red tape and highlight the opportunity regulatory reform can have as part of a broader economic strategy.

For the past few years, we have been working to improve how we regulate: fine-tuning what we ask of business, how often we ask it and how easy we make it for business to comply with rules.

To lead this effort, we created a small, stand-alone office whose staff are dedicated to working with the business community to identify regulatory barriers and other government red tape, and co-ordinating with departments and government agencies to find solutions that work for everyone.

As new regulation proposals come forward, staff at the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness assess the impact and estimate the costs or savings to business. This is important information as government designs regulations and services, and how we make decisions.

Last year, we committed to reduce the burden of red tape on business by $25 million by end of 2018. It is a bold and aggressive target that will take significant, unnecessary cost of compliance away from Nova Scotia business, giving business owners more flexibility to invest and create jobs.

Work on achieving the target is well underway: we’ve simplified and clarified language in guidelines, modernized legislation, and invested in new technology to make processes easier.

We created the Business Navigation Service, a first-of-its kind service in Canada to help guide businesses of all sizes, at all stages of operation, through what can be a complex regulatory environment.

Since its launch last year, our navigators have served more than 1,100 businesses, saving each one an average of 10 hours of time. That’s time better spent on their business. Cumulatively, this service has saved those businesses more than $1 million.

Today, we are accountable for publicly reporting on our red tape reduction work every year. And, while we are proud of the progress we’ve made, we know there is more to do.

As a former small business owner, I distinctly recall dealing with red tape.

As premier, I know the tremendous opportunity associated with improving how government regulates and the direct link it has to a vibrant, growing economy.