If the province was a student, it would likely be grounded right now.
Prince Edward Island received a low grade on the Red Tape Report Card issued by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday.
P.E.I.’s mark of a D+, although not a failing grade, is certainly cause for concern and some extra study time.
The province managed to bring its mark up from the D- it got on last year’s report card, but a D+ is nothing to brag about and suggests there’s still a long way to go in red tape reduction here.
The CFIB report indicated that the progress made over the past year was largely due to the expansion of the BizPal service across P.E.I. and the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax. The HST removed the burden of filing a monthly PST return, thereby reducing some red tape. It also removed the necessity of complying with two sets of consumption tax rules. Previously, most businesses had to know what goods and services had GST applied and which had PST. Now there’s only one set of rules.
In the last speech from the Throne to open of the fall sitting of the legislature in November, the provincial government promised a co-ordinated government-wide initiative to streamline processes and eliminate unnecessary rules, reduce duplication and develop a regulator’s code of practice. In a nutshell, this new plan, called Project ART, is designed to reduce red tape.
The promise was to roll out this project within the next two years as reducing red tape was listed as one of the priorities for the remainder of the Robert Ghiz government’s mandate.
The speech laid out the framework for the red tape reduction program. Project ART may have been set in motion since then, but there are no obvious changes yet.
The CFIB did indicate in yesterday’s report card that the project is a significant promise and “once implemented should improve P.E.I.’s grade.”
In the meantime, the Island’s municipal governments need to do a thorough examination of their bylaws, permit requirements and other regulations to ensure they are not weighing down businesses with red tape at the municipal level.
Some of the city of Summerside’s bylaws, for instance, are based on or match the provincial regulations, but some do not. So the municipalities, like Summerside, should be trying to streamline their regulations as well. After all, there's no sense in freeing business from the regulatory burden of one level, only to be caught up in the sticky red tape at another level.