Canada recently opened up international markets with historic trade agreements.
So it may be time to also drop trade barriers between our own provinces, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Officials are coming together for the Council of the Federation meeting in Prince Edward Island, so CFIB plans to push them to use international agreements similar to the Canada-EU free trade agreement as a model for modernizing agreements within Canada’s borders.
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Already, CFIB’s sent a letter to every premier, bringing attention to a number of small business issues. The group wants to:
- put pressure on the federal government to restore access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program;
- take a stand against any mandatory increase to payroll taxes in the form of increases to the Canada Pension Plan, or the creation of new provincial plans like the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan; and
- seek improvement of the inter-provincial trade by empowering their trade ministers to move forward on negotiating a more open market within Canada.
“Doing business with someone in Halifax should be…as easy for a business in Burnaby as one in Budapest,” says CFIB president Dan Kelly. Currently, you can have “a restaurant in Toronto that [wants] to showcase Canadian beer and wine from other provinces. But, [due to trade rules], it finds it much easier to carry foreign beverages than to get…products across provincial borders.”
That’s because the current Agreement on Internal Trade is out-of-date. It doesn’t go far enough in addressing key trade barriers, including: the failure to recognize other provinces’ professional credentials and food safety certifications; inconsistent standards for food packaging and truck safety; provincial business registration requirements; and the rather puzzling restrictions on selling alcoholic beverages from one province to the next.
“There’s a lot of red tape involved in dealing with other provinces, and that’s a big disincentive to growth,” adds CFIB executive vice-president Laura Jones. “With international trade barriers coming down, our internal trade agreements need to keep up [since] that’s a relatively easy way to boost the economy.”
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