(Toronto) A vast majority of Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that the country’s governments should eliminate interprovincial trade barriers on goods like alcohol and meat, services and labour, said Monday the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
In the 2023 edition of its Report Card on Interprovincial-Territorial Cooperation in Canada, the CFIB indicates that 88% of small business owners believe it is crucial that governments prioritize the elimination of barriers that hinder trade interior.
For example, companies would like professional licenses and accreditations to apply in all jurisdictions, the association said.
Businesses surveyed also said they face restrictions on the sale of certain food items such as meat and cheese, as well as the sale of alcohol, across provincial borders.
According to them, the complexity of the sales tax structures also represents a difficulty when selling outside their province.
A “major irritant” for businesses is the inability to transport alcoholic beverages across provincial borders, either in person or by direct-to-consumer shipment, CFIB noted in its report, adding that more than three-quarters of Business owners believe that Canadians should be allowed to order Canadian alcoholic beverages directly from any province or territory.
“If progress has stalled on this front, despite the efforts of multiple groups and organizations, it is in part because of long-standing differences between the policy and regulatory aims of provinces and territories,” the report said.
Eight provinces allow residents to ship alcohol across borders, CFIB said, but only one province — Manitoba — is “fully open” to alcohol shipments across borders to consumers. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Saskatchewan allow direct-to-consumer shipments of certain products from any jurisdiction, such as wine or spirits.
CFIB has given grades to all provinces and territories for their progress in reducing trade barriers. Manitoba scored the highest at A-, followed by Alberta at B .
Quebec earned the bottom position on the CFIB’s list, with a D. She noted that western provinces tended to get higher scores in part because of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement. This regional trade agreement has helped streamline regulations and standards in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, CFIB noted.
It has also helped to increase competition and reduce costs, she said.
The association recommended that governments across Canada “promptly adopt a Mutual Recognition Agreement encompassing all federal, provincial and territorial regulatory measures that impose requirements on the sale or use of goods and services “.