The Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative (PBRI), launched in 2004 and led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, is a federal initiative whose goal is to relieve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the excessive paperwork burden of regulatory compliance while ensuring Canada continues to have strong, effective regulations to protect individuals, the environment and the economy.
The initiative has the following key components:
- An Advisory Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ACSBE);
- A Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs.
What is Paperwork Burden
"Paperwork" or "red tape" is the time and resources spent by business owners, managers, staff or hired experts to understand and comply with government rules and regulations relating to operating a business. From the firm's perspective, complying with regulation includes planning, collecting, processing and reporting of information, completing forms and retaining data required by governments. The "burden" represents the administrative costs incurred above and beyond the normal day-to-day costs associated with running a business.
A Focus on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined as firms with fewer than 500 employees. These businesses make an important contribution to the Canadian economy. Consider:
- SMEs account for 99.9 percent of the total 2.3 million businesses operating in Canada.
- In 2008, SMEs represented nearly all of Canada's employers (99.7%) and employed almost two-thirds of Canada's private sector workforce.
Doing business in Canada means that a business must deal with the cumulative requirements imposed by three orders of government – federal, provincial/territorial and municipal. Results of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study of 11 countries — Businesses' Views on Red Tape: Administrative and Regulatory Burdens on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises — indicated that paperwork burden per employee in the smallest companies was found to be more than five times higher than for larger firms. A Statistics Canada's November 2007 Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs shows that Canadian small businesses with 1 to 4 employees incur at least seven times more costs per employee than its larger counterparts.
The Government of Canada recognizes paperwork burden as a priority in Advance Canada and subsequent budgets including the Canada's Economic Action Plan.
Budget 2010 announced the creation of the Advisory Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ACSBE), a private sector committee created to provide the government with advice on how to further improve business access to federal programs and information.
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