Continuing the fight against bureaucratic red tape

By Toby Barrett, MPP 

As the Legislature gears up to return February 16th, we will continue to do our best to assist Ontario business and individuals by getting government out of their way; one obstruction in particular comes to mind, red tape. 

As I’ve said before, I think red tape’s only purpose is for wrapping Christmas gifts. But historically, red tape was a symbol of efficiency.  Many believe that the term “red tape” originated with the Spanish administration of Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, in the early 16th century.  

King Charles used red tape to modernize the administration that was running his expansive empire. It was used to literally fasten the critical administrative files that needed immediate attention and separate them from issues that were treated in an ordinary way, which were bound with plain string.   

European monarchs soon copied Charles V and found that using red tape sped up their processes. Hard to conceive that at one time, red tape was a way to speed things up.  Nowadays it has the opposite effect. It fuels inefficiency. 

As Ontario navigates the colossal challenge of Covid-19, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) awarded Ontario an A- grade in its annual Red Tape Report Card for efforts throughout 2020 to remove red tape and other barriers to small business.  

Ontario has scored an A- grade for three consecutive years, which is the highest grade the province has ever received. The CFIB also improved the province’s grade for regulatory accountability, moving from a C to an A due to the increased transparency in burden reduction reporting.  

Ontario’s 2020 Burden Reduction Report included for the first time a breakdown by ministry of progress made to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses as well as the passage of the province’s red tape reduction legislation in July, the Modernizing Ontario for People and Businesses Act, 2020. 

Even though Covid-19 gets the headlines, as this excellent grade illustrates, our ministries are in full effect.  

We are working hard under these stressors to fulfill the Ford government’s original mandate to modernize regulations and cut red tape to create an open business climate to attract investment and create jobs. These initiatives are the building blocks to help Ontario recover into an economy that benefits small business, families and individuals. 

Ontario has also passed three high-impact burden reduction bills: the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act , the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020 and the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2020. These are designed to remove regulatory roadblocks, support businesses and help government deliver clear and effective rules that promote public health and safeguard the environment without sacrificing innovation, growth and opportunity. 

In March 2020, we launched Tackling the Barriers online portal, a tool to accept ideas on how government could provide flexibility or modernize to help businesses overcome the unique challenges created by COVID-19.  

The portal proved fruitful and resulted in over 50 changes, including giving the green light to restaurants and bars to extend outdoor patios, making the sale of beer and wine with food takeout and delivery orders permanent, and capping delivery fees charged to restaurants.  

This government has been successfully freeing Ontario from the difficult situation that red tape creates, and we will continue as we move through our recovery toward a progressive, prosperous, and modern society like Ontario.  

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk