Government red tape abounds, say local businesses

Chamber of commerce hosted session to discuss red tape reduction

Government red tape slashers will have a big job on their hands if the concerns aired at a Red Deer business gathering are any indication of the problems.

About three dozen business people, municipal officials and community group representatives turned out for a Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce-led session on the challenges all face dealing with bureaucratic red tape tangles.

“We really covered quite a broad swath of issues,” said chamber policy and advocacy manager Reg Warkentin.

Hassles with the paperwork required for accrediting foreign professionals, trucking regulations and taxes were raised in the meeting attended by Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan and Lac St. Anne-Parkland MLA Shane Getson, who is on a task force looking at ways to cut red tape.

“Consistency, transparency and accountability were big issues. They were kind of overarching issues that kept coming up through the afternoon,” said Warkentin of Monday’s session.

“There’s also duplication and over-burdensome paperwork and things that just don’t seem to make sense. The group was really trying to focus on the big issues, the things that are slowing down commerce and preventing people from getting work done.”

In support of the proposed Red Tape Reduction Act, the government announced early last month it was creating two industry panels — one focused on hospitality and tourism and the other on oil and gas. The panels will meet twice a year and produce reports for the associate minister of red tape reduction.

As well, input was to be gathered through meetings with small groups and industry leaders, as happened in Red Deer.

Warkentin said some spoke of the need to reduce administration to unlock more of the province’s talented labour pool, which includes those trying to have credentials from other countries or jurisdictions recognized.

“We’re not making the most of our people available,” he said, summing up how many felt.

“The government is taking steps to work with accreditation associations to speed that along, which is really good.”

The difficulty in navigating the public procurement process was another issue raised. Some contracts go to the lowest bidder, but others are evaluated differently, and it is not always clear what criteria are being used and why.

“Depending on the ministry, there are all sorts of different rules,” he said.

Dealing with municipalities — and inconsistency in how the Municipal Government Act is interpreted and enforced — was also a bone of contention.

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