FAQs

This section provides answers to questions regarding the Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative (PBRI) and the Advisory Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ACSBE).

Q1. What is the PBRI?

A. The PBRI, launched in 2004 and led by Industry Canada is a Government of Canada's commitment to finding solutions to relieve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the administrative cost and paperwork burden of regulatory compliance.

The PBRI involves measuring the costs and impact of regulatory compliance on small business and pursuing opportunities to reduce, rationalize and simplify regulatory requirements across federal departments and agencies. It consists of the following key components:

  1. An Advisory Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ACSBE);
  2. A Statistics Canada Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs.

The Paperwork Burden Reduction Initiative was created to support the federal government's overall agenda of regulatory improvements, which includes the Treasury Board-led Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation (2007), a commitment by the Government of Canada to protect and advance the public interest by working with Canadians and other governments to ensure that its regulatory activities result in the greatest overall benefit to current and future generations of Canadians.

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Q2. Who is the PBRI targeted at?

A. Small (fewer than 100 employees) and medium-sized businesses (fewer than 500 employees). Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) play a vital role in Canada's economic well-being as they are a key source of economic growth and job creation in Canada. They account for 99.9 percent of the total 2.3 million businesses operating in Canada.

More than 98 percent of Canadian businesses employ less than 100 employees.

Although all businesses face the "red-tape burden", the burden falls disproportionately on smaller businesses as they lack the resources to deal with regulations. That said, reductions in the paperwork burden will likely benefit larger businesses as well.

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Q3. Who sits on the Advisory Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ACSBE)?

A. The ACSBE is a private sector committee represented by a number of executives from small businesses and key business associations. See Committee Members for more information on members.

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Q4. Who supports the work of the ACSBE?

A. The work of the ACSBE is supported by a Secretariat from within Industry Canada's Small Business and Tourism Branch that provides the central direction and coordination of the efforts across the federal government.

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Q5. What is the Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs about?

A. The survey is a triennial voluntary survey conducted by Statistics Canada. The survey measures, by size of business, the cost of complying with 12  common categories of federal, provincial/territorial and municipal regulations relating to employees, taxation, corporation registration, mandatory Statistics Canada surveys, municipal taxes and business licences. The survey also includes questions about a firm's overall experience with government regulations, as well as business demographics.

The first survey established a baseline measure of compliance costs from which government can track its progress in reducing the burden. It also identified the amount of resources businesses must allocate away from income-generating activities (e.g. innovation). See Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs for more information on the survey.

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Q6. Why should businesses participate in the Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs?

A. There is a lack of quantitative data to assess the burden. Although it is ironic to ask businesses to complete a survey about paperwork, the survey is a short-term effort to be used for long-term savings in time and resources. The data collected through the survey allows the government to measure the burden, identify priorities for reduction and track the results of efforts to reduce the cost of compliance.

Businesses are strongly encouraged to complete the survey to ensure reliability of the data.

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Q7. How many small and medium-sized businesses are asked to participate in the Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs?

A. Statistics Canada mails a questionnaire to approximately 30 000 small (less than 100 employees) and medium-sized (less than 500  employees) businesses.

The more responses received, the more reliable and accurate the data from which government can assess the burden and make informed decisions for reduction. The large sample size will also help ensure that sufficient data are collected to represent five size classes of businesses (number of employees), at least five industry sectors, and various geographic regions or provinces (i.e. Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and British Columbia).

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Q8. When are the results of the survey expected?

A. The latest Analysis of Regulatory Compliance Costs, was released in December 2010. It focus on the cost and time of compliance incurred by businesses. The effects of paperwork burden on labour productivity is also considered, as SMEs' opinions about how to simplify compliance requirements.