Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to talk to the red tape reduction act. This legislation would enshrine our one-to-one rule in law.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Huron—Bruce.
Before I talk about this specific legislation, I want to take a trip down memory lane. I and a number of my colleagues in the House were privileged to be part of the Red Tape Reduction Commission. The commission's goal was to be transformative in how the government related to and worked with small businesses.
We all know how critical small businesses are to Canada's economy. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business told us how small businesses were being strangled in the red tape of federal, provincial and municipal governments. The commission provided us with the opportunity to focus on what was happening at the federal government level.
A number of people made up the commission, including a number of my colleagues in the House, as well as businessmen and people from across the country who had practical ideas.
We started this process in January 2011 and it concluded in March 2011. Over that period of time, we heard from people from all across the country. We had 15 round tables in 13 different cities. We received online submissions. We reviewed what other provinces and countries were doing and we reviewed what the experts had to say.
The commission had some clear goals. We wanted to reduce the administrative burden and improve government service. We wanted to enhance co-operation and coordination. We were looking to address the specific needs of small business. Small business owners are much more overwhelmed by the onerous needs that governments create as opposed to large businesses, with many different departments and the ability to mobilize somewhat more quickly. We were also looking at ensuring we addressed the cumulative burden. These were not the only things we looked at, but they were some of the critical things.
In September 2011, we presented a report that summarized what we heard. This report reflected on the different presentations we had received from people across the country.
We then spent a bit more time taking in what we had heard and looking at what other jurisdictions were doing. We presented another report in January 2012 to the government and that report contained our recommendations. The government then provided its response with a real commitment to move forward on a number of different issues.
We had 2,300 ideas and came up with 15 systemic proposals for the government to consider. They were very large in nature and crossed all government departments. We had 90 department specifics, such as a recommendation to Agriculture Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, and so on.
I remember one story I heard in Vancouver. A woman entrepreneur had left her job as a nurse and put her heart and soul into creating a product to help sick children. Somewhere in the process her product was reclassified from what was called a medical device to a consumer product. This had an enormous impact on her ability to move forward. It was a compelling story as to how we as a government could be more reflective of the needs of small business.
We were able to take it from that 100,000 foot level. It was a great privilege for me. At the time, I was the parliamentary secretary to the Canada Revenue Agency. There were a number of suggestions that came forward to the Canada Revenue Agency on what it might do to reduce the regulatory burden for small business. Telus wanted an online system, the ability for its accountants to get authorizations. Those were some of the things we heard.
We were very proud when the minister won the CFIB, Golden Scissors Award for cutting red tape. She took the recommendations that were specific to the Canada Revenue Agency, drilled down into them, and is in the process of making those changes that were suggested.
Today we are talking about one of the very important pieces that was one of the systemic suggestions that we made. This legislation would fulfill the commitment in October 2012, and was reaffirmed in the 2013 Speech from the Throne.
With this legislation, we hope to make it the law of the land that regulators strictly control the regulatory burdens that they impose on business. Under the one-for-one rule, for every brand new regulation that adds an administrative burden on business, one must be removed. This is smart legislation. It will help Canadian businesses become more productive and succeed in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace.
The red tape reduction act requires that regulators take seriously the requirement to control the amount of red tape imposed on businesses and the costs associated with that red tape.
As we went across the country, the one-for-one rule received a lot of reflection. We heard that more and more regulations were being added. The other thing we heard was that some regulations had more of a load on small businesses than other regulations. If we have a one-for-one rule, we need to reflect on what that burden to the business will be. It is not like we should take out something that is an easy regulation to comply with and put in something that will take hours and hours of the time of the small business.
We listened to that advice from small business owners from across the country and we reflected very carefully on that advice. That has been designed into the legislation.
The legislation challenges our regulators to think through how regulations can be designed and implemented in ways that do not impose unnecessary red tape on business. It is tough, but it is absolutely not inflexible. It can be applied in a way that will not compromise the protection of human health, safety, security, the economy and the environment.
That is another important issue. As we went across the country, many of the small businesses recognized that the government had an important role in terms of regulations, human health, safety, security, the economy and the environment. They appreciated government's role in that way, but they also wanted us to try, to the degree possible, to ensure we had that appropriate balance.
This legislation is also very timely. As we are looking to create a climate in which businesses can innovate and grow, too often red tape can get in the way. I mentioned an example earlier.
We have an economy that is important in how our small businesses contribute. There will be enormous opportunities with the European free trade agreement and the Korean free trade agreement. We want to support our businesses to be successful and to allow these new opportunities. They have to be as efficient and productive as possible.
The red tape reduction act is one way to help businesses to do just that. Enshrining the one-for-one rule in law recognizes that if Canadian businesses are to play their A game, we need to take away as many barriers to competitiveness as possible.
I am very pleased and privileged to have been a part of this process, the Red Tape Reduction Commission, the recommendations that we put forward and to move forward with both legislation and the many important changes that have been made in every department in government.
I look forward, and I hope that all members of the House will see fit to support this legislation.