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Gord Moker From the “golden scissors award” to the “paperweight trophy,” Red Tape Awareness week, put on by the Canadian Federation of Independent business (CFIB), gave various government agencies awards and grades for how easy they are for business owners to deal with.  


The goal of Red Tape Awareness week, held from Jan. 27-31 was to call on the government to reduce the amount of rules, paperwork and permits that a business owner has to deal with during their day-to-day operations.

Winners of the golden scissors award, given to those who reduced government red tape in the past year, included Treasury Board president Tony Clement for his work on Canada’s “Red Tape Reduction Commission”.

Organizations who were awarded the paperweight trophy for having too much regulation included the Saskatchewan government for regulation that requires permits for employees to swap statutory holidays for other days off. The Quebec government also received the award for keeping legislation that makes it illegal to cut hair during the evening in parts of the province.

The CFIB reports that business owners are the people most affected by government regulation, saying that complying with government regulations costs Canadian businesses $30 billion every year.

Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB Saskatchewan president, says most businesses want their workplace as safe as possible, and that the goal of cutting red tape isn’t to deregulate already existing safety rules, but to find ways to make those rules more efficient for business owners.

“It’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure employees are safe,” Braun-Pollon said. “But when a business owner calls a government organization to find out about safety compliance, or are looking for something like information on return to work programs, some business owners are saying that there’s a bottleneck in terms of getting efficient responses. So it’s those kinds of things where I think (government) can do a better job improving.”

While the idea to cut unnecessary government regulation may seem beneficial to business owners, there is concern that the safety of those in the workplace could be affected.

“Cutting red tape could be interpreted as taking short cuts, and that could have devastating effects,” said Gord Moker, Safe Saskatchewan CEO.

Moker says that if businesses were mandated by government to take safety more seriously, there would be the potential to reduce the amount of workplace injury in the province.

“Surprisingly enough there are still employers out there who consider workplace injuries the cost of doing business,” Moker said. “They accept a surcharge from the Workers Compensation Board as just another payroll cost without even looking further into the real costs. The real costs aren’t the premiums, they are the indirect costs that impact a business in regards to additional overtime, downtime, damage to property and equipment.”

However, Moker says that many businesses are taking workplace safety more seriously without additional regulations, and more employers are realizing the benefits to preventing work-related injuries.

 “We have seen examples of how organizations are really working towards workplace safety,” Moker said. “Some places have seen decreases in an injury rate of up to 86 per cent in less than two years. The business owner has to value safety and make the investments to prove it.”

Cutting red tape is considered a priority for Saskatchewan, as both sides of government support looking at ways to increase efficiency.

“Certainly there are examples where government can go back and rid itself of regulations that are redundant or without purpose, or out of date,” NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon said. “We also encourage government when they are bringing forward regulation to doing a scan so regulations can be as purposeful as they can be. But we would have significant concerns if there was scrapping of legislation to bring down the safety of workers on any front.”

Braun-Pollon says that rules and regulations that are more accessible and easier to understand can go a long way in making sure business owners comply with workplace safety regulations.

“Business owners want clear, plain language,” Braun-Pollon said. “It’s hard to be in a game if you don’t know what the rules are.”