Laura Jones, Chief Strategic Officer of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (submitted)

COLUMN: Governments should modernize their processes, get with the times for 2020

Laura Jones is the chief strategic officer at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

The start of a new decade is a great opportunity to make resolutions to ditch unhealthy habits and adopt a better way of doing things. This goes for our governments too. Committing to the 2020 Red Tape Challenge would be a fabulous New Year’s resolution for governments from Smithers, British Columbia, to the province of Ontario to Corner Brook, Newfoundland. It’s a New Year’s resolution that would give Canadians the best gift of all—time.

The challenge is simple: Implement at least one digital modernization initiative. Ditch the fax machine or the antiquated requirement that people show up in person during inconvenient office hours to do basic transactions. Fix broken links and optimize online forms. Make it possible to find things on websites. Accept payments online. Make sure getting from online to a real person is easy when needed with clear contact information and timely responses.

Many governments are already taking good steps in this direction. The federal government, for example, is focused on digital modernization as part of its regulatory competitiveness agenda. But it is clear that there is still far more to do.

On a recent small business survey, one respondent commented: “Government web pages are like a bad dream. Often if you need to go back a page, you end up starting over. Then you can’t use the same password and have to reset.”

ALSO READ: 20 B.C. cities ranked on ‘red tape’ when starting a business

Frustrations with fax machines abound: “We were required to complete a complex application…and fax it in for enrollment. We wrote an incorrect number on one of the documents. We could not just fax in the corrected page, we had to refax the total 15 pages. After this happened a couple of times, we were advised we also needed to submit additional information…and that we could not just submit the additional information. We now had to refax the 17 pages. As we do not have a fax machine in our store, we had to incur quite a substantial cost to fax 4 times…”

Even Canada’s largest city is way behind the times. Toronto still requires small business owners to submit business license applications in person. Allowing this to be done online would free up thousands of hours. Imagine if every government in Canada took one similar small step to go from in-line to online. It would be a meaningful gift of time, to say nothing of how much lower our collective blood pressure would be.

For governments wanting to accept the challenge, just send CFIB a fax! Better yet, come see us in person with your documents. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you how long the wait will be. Oops, that was channeling 1993. Just send us a quick email if you want to promote what you are doing or need some suggestions from your local small businesses on where to start.

For those wanting to support the challenge, if you have an idea for your local or provincial government we would be happy to raise it on your behalf. Email or join the conversation with the hashtags #redtape and #axethefax.

Laura Jones is the Chief Strategic Officer at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. She founded Red Tape Awareness Week and is Chairing the Federal External Advisory Committee on Regulatory Competitiveness. She can be reached at laura.jones@cfib.ca or @CFIBideas.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

New ‘hub’ model takes regional approach to doctor recruitment in West Kootenay

Kootenay-Boundary a provincial leader in effectively attracting doctors to work here

Missing Slocan City man found dead

Douglas Morrison went missing in mid-January

Nelson ArtWalk seeking submissions

You have until April 17 to submit your application

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read