Maritime Premiers’ Plan of Action for Regional Regulatory Reform

The Maritime Premiers’ Plan of Action for Regional Regulatory Reform was developed and approved by the Maritime Premiers’ in November 2015. Newfoundland and Labrador joined the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness in December 2016 and passed the Regulatory Accountability and Reporting Act.

The plan of action was released on November 6, 2015

1. THE JOINT OFFICE

In March of this year, the Premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick announced the creation of a Joint Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness. The mandate of the Office is create a better climate for doing business in and between the two provinces by reducing red tape created by unnecessary regulatory differences between the provinces and by eliminating barriers to the free flow of goods and services between them. The Office has completed the first phase of its work and the Premiers are pleased to announce the following initiatives and reforms.

2. REGULATORY REFORM INITIATIVE EXPANDS

  • Prince Edward Island joins the Joint Office

The three Premiers have concluded negotiations to expand the Agreement between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to include Prince Edward Island, effective immediately, as a full partner in the Office and in the reform initiatives it is leading. This brings welcome further support to the purpose of the Office, which is to help make the entire Maritime region the most streamlined and competitive region for the conduct of business in Canada.

3. GUIDING PRINCIPLES: ATLANTIC PREMIERS ADOPT JOINT CHARTER OF PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE REGULATORS TOWARD LESS AND BETTER REGULATION

Leading jurisdictions in regulatory reform, nationally and internationally, adopt clear and straightforward principles to guide regulators on when and how to regulate and when not to regulate. Currently, none of the three Provinces has such a code, but based on consultation and the research and advice of the Office, a draft code has been developed and agreed upon, and the provinces have decided to adopt it as a common code for the three of them. It will be known as the Premiers' Charter of Principles. Its core themes are -

  • regulation should be a last resort not a first resort, and the governments favour non-regulatory options like education, voluntary compliance, incentives and self-regulation if they can do the job.
  • if regulation is enacted, it should be in the lightest form possible, and based on a compelling cost benefit analysis that includes solid understanding of its cost to business and government and its overall economic impact.
  • the process of making regulations should be transparent and consultative with affected parties.

The Premiers' Charter will be rigorously applied to proposals for new regulations and the evaluation of existing regulatory programs. A copy of the Charter is attached to this statement.

4.  LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP: THE FOUR ATLANTIC PREMIERS ANNOUNCE INTENT TO ADOPT COMMON LEGISLATION ON REGULATORY ACCOUNTABILITY AND REPORTING

The governments of the three provinces will adopt common legislation to require the government of each province to adhere to the Premiers' Charter of Governing Principles for Regulation in exercising their respective regulatory authority and to also require an annual public report of measurable progress in reducing the burden of regulation on citizens and businesses. The purpose of the legislation is to hold governments accountable against measurable standards for progress in reducing red tape both within and between provinces. The legislation will impose no obligations or requirements on any party other than the governments themselves.

5. COMMON MEASUREMENT FOR ACCOUNTABILITY: TRACKING REGULATORY BURDEN IN THE FOUR ATLANTIC PROVINCES

The key to an accountable regulatory system is a reliable method of measuring and tracking the costs of regulation, allowing the public, government and stakeholders to see whether the three governments' commitment to reducing burden is producing results. The Office is in the process of developing such a model now, taking into account leading practice in other jurisdictions and, after consultation with stakeholders, the three provinces will adopt it as a common model for accountability. This regional partnership to undertake a common approach to regulatory impact analysis is a first in Canada.

6. IMPLEMENTING REDUCTIONS TO REGULATION BURDEN: NEAR-TERM CHANGES AGREED BY THREE MARITIME PREMIERS TO REDUCE RED TAPE AND ENHANCE INTER-PROVINCIAL BUSINESS

  • Procurement: adoption of common solicitation and legal documents among the three provinces.

Procurement spending by the three governments is a major economic lever. Each province currently has different documents and procedures for procurement, making the conduct of business in the three provinces more complex and cumbersome than necessary. By moving to common procedures and documents, it will be easier for businesses to operate across the three provinces. It will also make joint procurement, where the provinces combine their purchasing power, much more effective and less costly for government and business.

  • Employment Standards Reporting Requirements: harmonization or mutual recognition to eliminate unnecessary differences.

The three Maritime Provinces recognize there are a number of differences in provincial employment and labour standards laws. There are different requirements for employers and different rules that are applied within Maritime workplaces. These differences are often unnecessary. The three Premiers want to harmonize, simplify and eliminate those differences, making it easier for businesses that employ people in all three provinces – or may want to – or employees that may work in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The Premiers are committed to mutually recognize or harmonize requirements on things such as pay stub information and to explore a number of other areas where the region can benefit from a harmonized approach. As a signal of this commitment, the three provinces will be introducing legislation in the Spring of 2016 to harmonize - or mutually recognize – the kinds of records employers need to keep.

In addition, the three Premiers intend to move toward a shared date of April 1st for future minimum wage changes.

7. WHAT’S NEXT
The Office will work on implementation of the above areas. In addition, the three Maritime Premiers will identify areas of future priority for the Office. Areas could include transportation, agriculture, trade and service.