Minister wants us to see red when we see useless red tape
Grant Hunter passed a small test on cutting red tape with flying colours Monday afternoon.
When asked how to go about reaching him should I have more questions once I start writing this column, Alberta’s Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction suggested that rather than call his communications director, just call him directly. And while he’s not the first minister to give me his cell phone number, eliminating unnecessary steps in any process is what this former entrepreneur has long sought.
Hunter launched a new website Monday, CutRedTape.alberta.ca, that seeks information and ideas from Albertans on how to cut the regulatory burden that has choked off the Alberta Advantage.
“Tell us the problem and how it affects you,” asks the website. If you can think of a solution, then Hunter wants you to make those suggestions, too.
“Lots of people have said, ‘We’re getting absolutely hammered by layer-upon-layer of red tape.’ And, so that’s one of the major planks of our government in terms of getting Albertans back to work. The three planks of that plan are: lowering marginal tax rates, sustainable government and lowering the regulatory burden — what we used to call the Alberta Advantage.”
Hunter says he’s hearing everything from easy-to-solve smaller ideas to larger systemic examples in Alberta’s struggling oil and gas sector.
For instance, one complaint sounds almost like a riddle: ‘Why are bed and breakfasts only allowed to serve breakfast?’ It’s a great question. If B&B guests want to hang out in their room, why can’t they order a bowl of soup for lunch?
Or, here’s another: Why is one surface parking lot required to install 30 stop signs at every possible intersection, when an adjacent one has none?
Then, there’s the frustrated oil man who has been waiting more than eight years for the regulatory approval of an in-situ oilsands development.
“These are our job creators. These are the people whom we expect and hope will hire more people, but then we pile a whole bunch of red tape on them. It’s counter intuitive. It doesn’t make sense,” said Hunter, who while in opposition — after getting elected to the seat of Cardston-Taber-Warner in 2015 — brought forward a private member’s bill, Bill 204, that would have required any future Alberta government to remove one regulation for every regulation that comes in. It was soundly rejected by the NDP government of the day.
Now he is aiming to cut Alberta’s red tape by one-third in four years — an ambitious goal when you consider that British Columbia took 10 years to cut 49 per cent of its regulatory burden.
“Too often, governments don’t think about the outcome; they just think about the process and this is a big problem that governments all over the world have been dealing with. Someone encounters a problem and then a legislator says, ‘Let’s fix it,’ which is the right thing to do. But, the problem is that they create legislation or a regulation that will fix it, but it affects the other 99 per cent. It ties the hands of those good actors when in reality, good legislation should tie the hands of the bad actors. So this is a cultural change that we’re going to do.”
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