With Canada recently opening up international markets with historic trade agreements, it is time to drop trade barriers between our own provinces. As Canada’s premiers come together in Charlottetown this week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is urging them to use international agreements like the Canada-EU free trade agreement as a model for modernizing trade within Canada’s borders.
In advance of this week’s Council of the Federation meeting in Prince Edward Island, CFIB sent a letter to every premier, bringing attention to a number of small business issues and calling on provincial leaders to:
- put pressure on the federal government to restore access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP);
- take a strong stand against any mandatory increase to payroll taxes in the form of increases to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or the creation of new provincial plans like the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP); and,
- improve 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 at least as easy for a business in Burnaby as one in Budapest,” said CFIB President Dan Kelly. "We have a restaurant member in Toronto that would love to showcase Canadian beer and wine from other provinces, but finds it much easier to carry foreign beverages than to get these products across provincial borders.”
The current Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) is out-of-date, and does not go far enough in addressing key trade barriers, including the failure to recognize other provinces’ professional credentials and food safety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 is a lot of red tape involved in dealing with other provinces, and that’s a big disincentive to growth,” added Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB Vice President, Prairie and Agri-business. “With international trade barriers coming down, our internal trade agreements need to keep up. This is a relatively easy way to boost the economy, and should be a top priority for every province.”