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Regulatory Reform Series – Introduction

Introduction

I’m a regulatory process nerd.  Over the last decade in regulatory development, I’ve become fascinated with the process, particularly modernization and reforms intended to increase transparency, accountability and value for money.  For some time I’ve been deliberating putting my thoughts into a cohesive series of analyses and recommendations for improvements to the regulatory system in Canada.  In this post, I will introduce the current state of regulatory reform in Canada and lay out the areas I will address in the future.

Background

In 2010, Canada embarked on an ambitious plan to reduce red tape with the creation of the Red Tape Reduction Commission (archived) mandated with reducing “irritants that have a clear detrimental effect on growth, competitiveness and innovation,” especially in our small businesses while “ensuring that the environment and the health and safety of Canadians are not compromised.”  In January 2012, the Commission released the Recommendations Report with 15 systemic changes and 90 department-specific “recommended solutions to eliminate or alleviate these irritants.”

Taking into account the work of the Commission and the Recommendations Report the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) released the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan (RTRAP) detailing the Government of Canada’s systemic regulatory reforms to address the Commission’s recommendations. While intended to reduce red tape, these efforts form the basis of Canada’s most recent large-scale regulatory reform efforts.  These efforts have ran in parallel and informed the five-year review of the Cabinet Directive on Regulation, which has been underway at TBS from 2012 and continued most recently with a public consultation on Consulting with Canadians.  The successor to the Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management should be implemented in 2018 and will codify many of these regulatory reforms.

The Red Tape Reduction Action Plan

The Red Tape Reduction Action Plan (RTRAP) contains details on the Government’s response to the Commission’s recommendations.  The core of the Government’s commitments consist of the following five major systemic reforms (from the RTRAP) to Canada’s regulatory system:

  • One-for-One Rule: A One-for-One Rule will require regulators to offset new administrative burden costs imposed on business with equal reductions in administrative burden from the stock of existing regulations. They will also have to remove a regulation when a new one increases administrative burden costs on business. Canada will be the first country to give such a rule the weight of legislation.
  • Small Business Lens: A Small Business Lens will ensure regulators take into account the impact regulations have on small business. This assessment will include the publication of a 20-point checklist that drives efforts to minimize burden on small business, avoidance of bureaucratic duplication and the communication of regulatory requirements in clear, plain language.
  • Forward Regulatory Plans: The publication of departmental Forward Plans, which will highlight upcoming regulatory changes over a 24-month period, providing businesses with critical predictability.
  • Service Standards: Service Standards will set targets for the timely issuance of high volume licences, certifications and permits. Regulators will also establish a feedback mechanism for business users in these areas.
  • Annual Scorecard: An Annual Scorecard will report publicly on implementation of systemic reforms, particularly the One-for-One Rule, Small Business Lens and Service Standards.

All of the systemic reforms above have been implemented and are currently required components of the regulatory process.

Methodology

I plan on addressing each of the systemic reforms above, along with the the Administrative Burden Baseline reform through a detailed description of the reform, both theoretic and practical, a comparison with similar reforms in other regulatory jurisdictions, an assessment of the pros and cons, and finally recommendations for improvement with a focus on improving alignment with objectives, effectiveness, and modernization.  Finally, I will conclude with general considerations on various elements of Canada’s regulatory regime that could benefit from better integration or modernization such as consultations, portals, TBS, Treasury Board, Privy Council Office, and the Canada Gazette.

Given that we’re approaching the major annual update of the Forward Regulatory Plans, I will begin my analysis here in my next post: Regulatory Reform Series – Forward Regulatory Plans.

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