As you may know, the Premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island gathered on Friday in Charlottetown to announce an unprecedented partnership and action to reduce red tape in our region and position it for growth.
The partnership, action and urgency reflects the recommendations of the Ivany and Broten reports, as well as the discussions I’ve had with groups and individuals, such as yourself. It’s also based on best practice research.
The announcement was significant, and includes several elements. I’ve summarized them below, as well as have included a link to our website below for more information.
1. Regulatory Reform Initiative Expands
Prince Edward Island has now formally joined the joint Office bringing further support to the purpose of the Office, which is to help make the entire Maritime region the most streamlined and competitive region for the conduct of business in Canada.
2. Guiding Principles: Maritime Premiers Adopt Joint Charter of Principles to Guide Regulators Toward Less and Better Regulation
Leading jurisdictions in regulatory reform adopt clear and straightforward principles to guide regulators on when and how to regulate. Until now, none of the three Maritime Provinces has such a code. Adopting a common chapter further embeds interprovincial alignment on approach to regulation.
The core themes of the Charter are:
· regulation should be a last, not first resort
· when regulation is enacted, it should be the lightest possible touch, with full knowledge of the costs and benefits
· the cost and burden of regulation must be measured
· stakeholders and impacted parties should be consulted throughout the process
3. Legislative Leadership: Maritime Premiers Intend to Adopt Legislation on Regulatory Accountability and Reporting
The three provinces will adopt common legislation to require each province to adhere to the Premiers’ Charter of Principles as well as an annual public report of measurable progress in reducing the burden of regulation. To this point, no Maritime province has legislation on regulatory accountability – a requirement for sustainable regulatory reform – so I believe this is significant.
4. Common Measurement: Tracking Regulatory Burden in the Maritime Provinces
Measuring and tracking the costs of regulation is key to accountability. This allows the public, government and stakeholders to see whether the three governments’ commitment to reducing burden is producing results. The three Provinces will adopt a common measurement model for accountability. This regional partnership to undertake a common approach to regulatory impact analysis is a first in Canada.
5. Initiatives to reduce red tape and enhance inter-provincial business
To illustrate our commitment to action, the three provinces have agreed to some near-term changes to reduce red tape and enhance inter-provincial business:
· Adoption of common solicitation documents among the three provinces:
Each province currently has different documents and procedures for procurement, making the conduct of business in the three provinces more complex and cumbersome than necessary. By moving to common procedures and documents, it will be easier for businesses to operate across the three provinces. It will also make joint procurement, where the provinces combine their purchasing power, much more effective and less costly for government and business. The move to common solicitation documents will happen by November 2016.
· Employment Standards Reporting Requirements: harmonization or mutual recognition to eliminate unnecessary differences:
There are a number of differences in our provincial employment and labour standards laws, including different requirements for employers and different rules applied within Maritime workplaces. The Premiers have agreed to introduce legislation in the spring of 2016 to harmonize – or mutually recognize – the kinds of records employers need to keep. In addition, the three Premiers intend to move to a shared date of April 1st for future minimum wage changes. The intent is not to harmonize the wage or the process by which wage is set – only the date changes are made.
All of the above actions have a shared goal: to make it easier for businesses that operate – or want to – in all three provinces and position our region for growth.
If you’d like more information, a backgrounder and the Premiers’ Charter is on our website here.