The threat of a prison sentence if you don’t answer long Statistics Canada surveys. A requirement forcing business owners to post a notice to inform staff that they intend to post a notice. A two-page form that children must fill out for a lemonade stand permit.
These are just some of the examples included in the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses’ annual Paperweight Awards, which highlight the worst ways government regulations are hampering small businesses.
Here’s a look at some of the finalists in 2018.
Put on notice: Quebec business owners are forced to post a notice informing employees that they will soon post a notice (you read that right). The Quebec labour department requires employers with more than 10 employees to post on a wall or email a notice that a pay equity notice will be posted soon.
Survey says, ‘Go to jail!’: Canadian small businesses must answer lengthy Statistics Canada surveys, or face fines or even jail time. “Many business owners are receiving several of these complex, time-consuming surveys every year,” CFIB says. “One member was sent two surveys by StatsCan in six months, both of which required her to take extra time to gather detailed information that most small business owners just don’t have on hand.”
Death by a 1,000 paper cuts: CFIB says that the “whopping” number of new and revised regulations introduced in the Ontario government’s “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act” has led to a mounting pile of paperwork. “Many small firms will need to hire full-time HR staff just to keep up,” CFIB says.
When life gives you lemons: You may remember how Ottawa’s National Capital Commission shut down a lemonade stand last year, run by two young girls who were fundraising for summer camp, because they didn’t have an event permit. Now, children in Ottawa who want to put up a lemonade stand along NCC bike paths must fill out a two-page form, set up by 9 a.m. and display permits prominently. The commission also recommends the young entrepreneurs to attend a training workshop.
Beer limits: CFIB says that “silly” interprovincial trade rules are causing “needless grief and legal problems for business and citizens,” especially when it comes to liquor restrictions that limit personal imports.
Income sprinkling: Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s income “sprinkling” rules for private corporations “come wrapped up with lots of red tape an uncertainty,” CFIB says. The group says that business owners in Canada are concerned that the new rules won’t recognize the formal and informal ways family members participate in their businesses.