Red Tape Awareness Week

A message from Minister Don Scott
When it comes to understanding and navigating government regulatory systems an entrepreneur can get extremely frustrated. When time is money and you are trying to make a living for your family, you want interactions with government to take as little time as possible.

I understand the challenges entrepreneurs face when starting and running a business. I am a small business owner and I had the same challenges when I started my own law practice in 2006. I built my practice from the ground up in Fort McMurray and certainly had many moments of frustration dealing with different levels of government.

There have been many improvements since I opened my doors in 2006, but government still has work to do. That is why I was extremely excited to become Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education and have the opportunity to support entrepreneurial success in Alberta.

CFIB Red Tape Awareness Week
This week is the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) Red Tape Awareness Week. The purpose of the week is to advocate for a reduction in regulatory burden for businesses in Alberta and across Canada. CFIB and their Alberta Director, Richard Truscott, are strong advocates for small business and I want to thank them for the passion they bring to their work.

This past fall I was happy to announce Alberta’s Small Business Strategy with Premier Prentice and Mr. Truscott. I am pleased that our work on the Strategy was nominated for the CFIB’s 2015 Golden Scissors Award. The Golden Scissors Award recognizes leadership in cutting red tape for Canada’s small businesses.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive in Alberta
Small Business is thriving in Alberta! Small businesses make up 95 per cent of all businesses and 35 per cent of private sector jobs in Alberta. Small businesses are leaders in generating economic activity and contribute over 25 per cent of Alberta’s provincial GDP. (Our latest small business profile, 2014 Small Business, Big Impact can be read online here)

Alberta leads the country in small business creation. The CFIB ranks Alberta as the most competitive tax environment for small businesses in the country. Also, Alberta continues to dominate the rankings for Canada’s best place to start and grow a business. Alberta holds the top eight spots in CFIB’s Entrepreneurial Communities Report.

Last year the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), an internationally recognized report that you can read here, showed that Alberta has the highest level of entrepreneurship in Canada. Alberta even ranked far above the G7 country average. I was also thrilled to see that Alberta has a high rate of female entrepreneurs (60% higher than the national average).

A bigger voice for small business
All of the above tells us what Albertans already know – Albertans have an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit and our province is one of the best places on the planet to be an entrepreneur and small business owner.

That is why it is crucial that small business have a big voice in government.

Alberta’s new Small Business Strategy is helping to give small business that big voice. The strategy is a new model in government transparency, accountability and dialogue with small businesses. A couple of the first steps taken under the strategy include the new Business Advisors at The Business Link and the Alberta Small Business Resources website. Both give entrepreneurs the support they need to navigate the regulatory environment and the ability to quickly and easily provide feedback to government.

We are also working on improving service delivery through the adoption and implementation of a business service number – the One Business Number. The Business Number is based on a “one business, one number” vision where businesses are provided a single, unique business identifier when dealing with government programs. Adopting the Business Number has the potential to offer a number of benefits to both government and businesses, including: simplified registration processes; improved service delivery and program compliance; and, expanded opportunities to enable online service integration and information sharing with other jurisdictions. The Business Number is a 9-digit identifier issued by the Canada Revenue Agency to every Canadian business for federal income tax purposes. As a result, the Business Number is already recognized as a common identifier for all businesses across the country.

Regulatory reform and cutting red tape
It is important to understand that cutting red tape and regulatory reform is not as simple as removing an arbitrary number of regulations or taking out one regulation when a new regulation is added.

Provinces need regulations – these are the rules for protecting worker safety, ensuring public health, protecting the environment, providing safeguards for consumers and so on. The importance here is focussing regulatory reform on inefficient regulations and regulations that that are unduly getting in the way of small business success.

(Independent experts have confirmed that Alberta’s regulatory system is competitive, please see: 2012 Business Regulatory Benchmarking Report.)

The Small Business Strategy committed to conduct a regulatory benchmarking study every two years to assess the quality of regulations in Alberta and identify areas for improvement. We will work with entrepreneurs, businesses, industry, and partners to continue to reduce the regulatory burden for small businesses and make Alberta one of the most successful business climates in North America.

Alberta is the best place to start a small business in Canada and your government plans to keep it that way.

Don Scott
Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education

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