February 24th, 2020

Red-tape feedback needed: Hunter

By COLLIN GALLANT on February 12, 2020.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Members of the Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce came to hear the man charged in cutting red tape in Alberta, who in turn said he wanted to hear from them.

Grant Hunter, the province’s associate minister of red tape reduction, spoke to about three dozen chamber members prior to their quarterly policy meeting on Tuesday morning at Chinook Village.

He said that the new portfolio is listening to business owners and Albertans about easing processes and reducing government regulation, and has already rewritten farm safety legislation and implemented other changes in a number of areas.

“It’s a major plank of our government to get out of the way of our innovators and our job creators and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Hunter, the MLA for Taber-Warner, who joined cabinet last May when the United Conservatives took power.

Since then a website set up for Albertans to make their suggestions garnered 5,000 submissions on areas for consideration. He said his office is helping conduct industry-led reviews of large sectors of the economy, but also is digitizing communications, streamlining grant applications and ready to tackle other items that may seem minor.

“We don’t have to hit it out of the park every time,” said Hunter, but rather about finding out best practices and implementing them here.

“Every time you see that you have to fax something to government, let us know,” he told the audience. “Who faxes anything anymore? Really? It’s antiquated and we don’t need it anymore.”

Working groups are now examining regulation in several sectors of the economy, including the oilpatch, service and non-profit sectors.

Hunter said expect more changes in 2020.

He also said less regulation should be coupled with lowering compliance costs to be effective. Also, municipalities should also review their own regulations.

“It’s really encouraging to hear that the process is ongoing,” said Hunter

Medicine Hat chamber vice president Marcus Campbell felt the full effect of reducing regulation and cost of doing business could take time.

He also gave an endorsement of steps taken locally, but said an area of concern is how safety and building codes are interpreted by officials in different jurisdictions.

“The area (governments are) pretty good to get along with as far as regulations,” he said.

“The chamber is exploring developing a policy to align safety codes and building codes to get some clarity. But overall, the regulation (level) is pretty good.”

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