Chamber gives mixed review to Liberals on cutting red tape – iPolitics
Canada’s largest business advocacy group is giving the Trudeau government a mixed review for its work to reduce red tape, saying Ottawa needs to do more to turn encouraging words into concrete action.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce awarded the federal government a “B” grade overall in its first annual report card on regulatory reform, which measured how Ottawa was advancing work on seven core recommendations from the advocacy group.
High grades were meted out for the establishment of a government-business regulatory competitiveness working group and steps taken to modernize individual regulatory frameworks.
The feds, though, received less positive but still passing marks for eliminating interprovincial trade barriers, rebuilding confidence in cost-benefit analyses, enhancing international alignment and giving regulators “economic growth and competitiveness mandates.”
However, the chamber handed out an “F” for the government’s work on consultations with businesses, slamming the Liberals for how they sought input from industry on landmark legislation overhauling the environment assessment process for resource projects, in particular.
“Where the government has failed the most is in the sincerity of its consultations with business on new regulatory measures. The most notable example in 2019 was the passage of C-69, where the government invited and then ignored substantive industry input on designing a new environmental assessment regime,” Ryan Greer, senior director, regulatory policy, with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.
“Our members regularly question why they invest so much time and effort in consultations when it seems the government wants to use consultations to justify its preferred regulatory approach rather than improve it.”
Bill C-69, which created a new body to handle impact assessments for projects, was the subject of long-running lobbying campaign by the oil and gas sector and conservative politicians, who worried the legislation would make it nearly impossible to get approvals needed on new resource projects. It was passed into law in late June.
However, environmental groups, who had worried that the bill would be watered down amid an unprecedented series of amendments offered by the Senate, praised the passage of Bill C-69, noting it will, among other changes, require that a project’s impact on climate change be considered during the review process.
The chamber also took issue with the slow rollout of a Liberal government pledge to give economic mandates to regulators, saying it was disappointed this couldn’t be done before the upcoming election.
“We were very happy to see the government embrace our recommendation to give economic mandates to regulators in the 2018 fall economic statement, but the government was unable to implement this measure before the federal election,” Greer said.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Treasury Board President Joyce Murray defended the government’s record on creating a “smarter regulatory system,” pointing to the creation of an annual regulatory cleanup bill to remove outdated rules, mandating an annual report on efforts to improve the regulatory system and establishing an external advisory committee featuring industry on regulatory competitiveness.
“We will continue to work with all stakeholders, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, to reduce administrative burden in a responsible manner,” Farees Nathoo, press secretary for Murray, told iPolitics in a statement.
And while the chamber criticized the Liberals for being slow to take action on improving the Red Tape Reduction Act, Nathoo said the government is consulting with industry leaders and stakeholders on “how to build in regulatory efficiency and economic growth into the mandate of regulators’ mandates.”
The government is also requiring that all new regulations be examined to assess whether they are beneficial or onerous to small businesses.
This year saw the first deployment of the promised yearly regulatory cleanup bill, which seeks to actively identify and eliminate old and unnecessary regulations. It was rolled up in the government’s sprawling budget implementation bill, C-97, which was passed into law in late June.
*This story has been corrected to properly attribute the statement to Farees Nathoo.
This content was originally published here.