The 2012–2013 Scorecard Report: Implementing the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan
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The Regulatory Advisory Committee’s Advice to the President of the Treasury Board on the 2012–2013 Annual Scorecard Report
Deliberations of Advisory Committee
The Regulatory Advisory Committee was established in September, 2013. Committee members who will serve an initial term of two years are: Vic Young, Corporate Director and Committee Chair; Eve-Lyne Biron, President and CEO of Biron Groupe Santé; Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers’ Association of Canada; David Fung, Chairman and CEO of ACDEG Group; and Laura Jones, Executive Vice President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The Committee held two meetings by teleconference on September 19th and November 25th. It also held three meetings in person on September 25th, December 9th and December 10th. All of the in-person meetings included in-camera sessions of Committee members only, in the absence of government officials. At its initial meeting, the Committee held a phone conversation with the President of the Treasury Board, Mr. Tony Clement to discuss their mandate and the desire of the Minister to receive unvarnished advice. On December 24th, the Chair of the Committee held a phone conversation with Minister Clement to discuss Committee progress and the timing of the final report.
Throughout the months of September to December there was continuous communication between the Chair and senior Treasury Board officials to discuss meeting agenda items and the ongoing information requirements of the Committee. The Committee was impressed with the presentations that it received and has no doubt about the personal commitment of Treasury Board officials to the success of the program.
Focus of Initial Report
In its initial report, the Committee did not perform nor was it mandated to perform an ‘audit-like’ review of the Scorecard. Rather the Committee has drawn on the expertise of government officials as well as the members’ business backgrounds and experience to arrive at a general opinion on the overall fairness and reliability of the Scorecard. The Committee focused on the implementation of (i) the One for One Rule, (ii) the Small Business Lens, (iii) Forward Regulatory Plans and (iv) Service Standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations.
The Committee’s role is limited to providing advice on red tape arising from regulation. Other potential sources of burden that business may experience in their interaction with government may include, for example (i) applying for grants and contributions programs; (ii) meeting government requirements to do business with government through contracts; (iii) requirements from government policy and (iv) lacklustre government customer service. These potential sources of red tape burden are not covered by our mandate. The Committee has been advised by Treasury Board officials that ‘regulatory red tape’ makes up a significant portion of the total red tape universe. However, it is important to note that the Committee spent considerable time trying to understand the government’s definition of ‘regulatory red tape’ and how it differs from the more comprehensive definition of red tape that is commonly used by the private sector. More clarity in this area is still needed in order to fully understand the potential impact of the reforms. While the mandate of the committee when commenting on the scorecard is limited to ‘regulatory red tape’, we recommend that the government not limit itself to this definition where it gets in the way of making a difference on the ground.
In our meetings and interactions with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Committee has come to the conclusion that the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan is a significant initiative that is being undertaken with real commitment. It must, however, be viewed as a longer-term program. The Scorecard for 2012–2013 should be seen as an important first step in a three year program aimed at changing the regulation making process and halting the growth of red tape in the Government of Canada. The next two years will be critical to the objective of embedding the understanding of the importance of red tape reduction into the culture of government departments and agencies. This is no easy task and it would be premature to make any bold claims with respect to early and significant results. The most important thing at this stage is to retain the commitment to the completion of the three-year program; to reinforce political leadership and tone at the top related to the necessity of red tape reduction; and to ensure the appropriate resources are applied to the remaining projects associated with implementing these systemic reforms.
We believe that government is on a very significant journey that will require many more years of hard work. Therefore the key message is that the program is off to a good start and there is much work to be done and that red tape reduction remains a priority for government going forward. At this stage, we should not confuse significant early action with longer term results.
Focus of Future Reports
The Committee is keen to determine the extent to which Action Plan implementation is, in fact, resulting in lasting systemic change that makes a difference for business and other stakeholders. The Committee will monitor the work of TBS officials in 2014 aimed at developing meaningful metrics to better gauge the impact of the systemic reforms. The Committee did not undertake any stakeholder consultations on the progress reported in the initial Scorecard as it was considered too early to do so. It intends, however, to undertake such consultations in 2014 with a view to assessing the ‘on the ground’ response of stakeholders. Also in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the Committee will review the implementation of (i) Interpretation Policies and (ii) the Administrative Burden Baseline.
The most important advice we can provide at this time is that Treasury Board does everything possible to keep everyone’s feet to the fire to bring red tape reduction to fruition. Some of the key questions that need to be answered are: what does success look like; is the red tape reduction action plan making a difference; what, if any, culture change, is occurring in the manner government is dealing with red tape; and what is the ongoing impact on stakeholders? Going forward, measuring the success of the reforms in a manner which is comprehensive and provides clarity and consistency will lead to credibility with respect to how the program is being implemented. The Committee intends to monitor the critical elements associated with metric development and implementation credibility.
Advice to the President of the Treasury Board
As is required by its mandate, the Regulatory Advisory Committee to the President of the Treasury Board has reviewed the first Annual Scorecard Report related to the Government's Red Tape Reduction Action Plan. Based on the information provided, the nature of the initial review undertaken and, in the overall context of the related and pertinent issues described above, the Advisory Committee is of the view that the Scorecard and the statements made therein are reliable and fairly (i) represent progress to date and (ii) reflect the ongoing commitment of Government, between now and 2015, to establish a comprehensive process of regulatory red tape reform.
At the risk of being repetitive, the Committee wishes to reiterate that while there has been much progress to date much work remains to be done; meaningful performance metrics need to be developed; and stakeholder consultations need to be undertaken. These red tape reforms are being implemented over three years but are intended to set the rules for regulation making over the long term and will affect the regulatory system for years to come. Evaluating impact and making necessary adjustments where needed will be critical to making a positive difference in the lives of all Canadians. We look forward to providing ongoing advice during this critical period related to the implementation of the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan.
(original signed by)
Corporate Director and Committee Chair
President and CEO, Biron Group Santé
Chairman and CEO, ACDEG Group
President, Consumers’ Association of Canada
Executive Vice President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
List of Acronyms Used in the Annual Scorecard Report
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Canada Revenue Agency
Canadian Wheat Board
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Employment and Social Development Canada
Department of Finance Canada
Farm Products Council of Canada
Governor in Council
Department of Justice
Natural Resources Canada
Public Safety Canada
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Regulatory Impact and Analysis Statement
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Veterans Affairs Canada
Vehicle Identification Number
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