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

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

Jessica Lowry created a series of videos to engage Ladysmith Intermediate School students in mindfulness. (Submitted photo)
Ladysmith Intermediate teams up with local artist to introduce students to mindfulness

Ladysmith artist Jessica Lowry created a series of 36 videos to help students practice mindfulness

Luke Marston works on the seawolf mask for Canucks goalie Braden Holtby. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Stz’uminus artist Luke Marston designs new mask for Canucks goalie

The mask features artwork inspired by the Coast Salish legend of the sea wolf

Scott Saywell, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ superintendent and CEO, has seen his contract renewed for four years, the district announced Wednesday. (SD68 YouTube screenshot)
Ladysmith school district renews superintendent’s contract for four years

‘Singing superintendent’ Scott Saywell under contract through 2024-25 school year

Emergency services were on scene at 1st Avenue and Warren Street after a skateboarder was struck by a vehicle. (Submitted photo)
Skateboarder ‘bumped’ by vehicle on 1st Avenue

Emergency services personnel say the skateboarder is uninjured

Parents Robin Ringer and Wyatt Gilmore with the No. 1 baby of 2021 in the Cowichan Valley. They have yet to decide on a name for her. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus couple excited about having the New Year’s baby for the Cowichan Valley

Recent arrivals from Fort Nelson celebrate their girl coming into the world on Jan. 7

B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)
B.C. watchdog says mentally ill children and youth retraumatized in hospital

The number of children held under the Mental Health Act has increased an alarming 162 per cent in past decade

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a threat was made at Woodgrove Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Threat directed at Nanaimo mall, RCMP investigating

Police have searched areas of Woodgrove Centre accessible to shoppers and have deemed it safe

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

(News Bulletin file photo)
Car crashes along the Nanaimo Parkway, driver abandons vehicle

Mazda with ‘extensive damage’ found in the ditch in the early-morning hours Jan. 19

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

Most Read