Canada Revenue Agency could be a part of solution to small business’ red tape woes

If there is one unifying issue that I hear from our small business community it is the need to cut the red-tape that they are saddled with by the federal government, especially with respect to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). From the tiniest ‘Mom and Pop’ shops to small-scale manufacturers from all across the country, this is a rallying cry.

While the ups and downs of big business make front page news, these small entrepreneurial ventures are the real heartbeat of our economy. They provide equally important jobs but on a smaller scale. Yet these operations don’t always seem to have the government’s ear in the same way big industry and large-scale business does; this isn’t fair and after years of promises the issue of burdensome red-tape is being addressed.

The unfortunate thing is that this is being addressed with another level of bureaucracy , more study and more money. It seems like a punch-line in a bizarre joke, but the Prime Minister’s latest announcement on the issue indicated the Conservatives will establish a new commission to reduce red-tape for small business. This will be added to the Advisory Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which is part of the Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative.

The problem itself seems pretty clear and the need to establish a commission on top of a committee indicates that we are in danger of studying the issue to death rather than moving on it. Surely the committee knows as much as most MPs find out within a few weeks on the job – that the CRA is an unresponsive bureaucracy with no real oversight on behalf of the many small businesses who would rather spend more time working for themselves than for that monolithic institution.

The Prime Minister must know this too, but there appears to be no end of his friends that need to collect from the public purse while duplicating work that should be done by now and, at the very least, well understood. What small business could really use right now is an advocate to reign in the CRA and the demands the agency places on our entrepreneurs.

New Democrats are proposing a small business ombudsman for the CRA. We are confident that more could be done by creating that position, which would ensure that CRA starts practicing more common sense when dealing with small businesses, than could be done by any number of panels, committees or commissions. An ombudsman would easily be more efficient and would take less time to get up and running too.

It is clear that something has to be done to help small business focus more on their own work and less on the government’s requirements, but another layer of bureaucracy isn’t going to move those chains.