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November 6, 2015
For immediate release

Strengthened Maritime partnership on regulatory reform

Premier's Office

The premiers of the Maritime Provinces met in Charlottetown today to advance initiatives to further the interests of the region.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil committed to a shared approach to regulatory reform within the region and initiating an early, open dialogue with the federal government.

Premiers announced that their governments have entered into a strengthened partnership to reduce red tape and position the regional economy for growth and job creation.

In March 2015, Premier McNeil and Premier Gallant announced the creation of the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness to reduce the regulatory burden on citizens and businesses while protecting public health and safety, the environment, and employee and consumer interests. Today, Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced that Prince Edward Island has joined this regional partnership to harmonize government regulation and improve the effectiveness of public services.

"Our shared commitment to tackling red tape is clear,” said Premier McNeil. “We have a significant and unique opportunity to take action to make our region more competitive by eliminating trade barriers, reducing cost and hassle for business, and improving government services."

The three Premiers announced a series of actions designed to break down barriers between provinces and make it easier to do business in the Maritimes.

Under the NB-NS-PEI joint office, the three Premiers agreed to:

-- adopt a Premiers’ Charter that outlines a shared vision for regulation. This will help guide the development of new regulation and the assessment of existing regulations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; -- common legislation to bring accountability and annual reporting to government regulation; and -- a common approach to measuring regulatory burden and its impact on businesses, government, and citizens.

“We welcome Prince Edward Island to this initiative," said Premier Brian Gallant. "This is about making it easier for businesses that operate, or want to operate in all three provinces. By reducing and better aligning regulations in the three provinces, we will help create the conditions for economic growth and job creation. By working together we will overcome our collective challenges and create jobs in the region.”

The Premiers also outlined specific actions they are taking to reduce the burden of regulation for businesses in the region:

-- a common approach to procurement to eliminate differences and barriers between provinces;

-- elimination of differences in the kinds of records that employers need to keep on file; and

-- the intent to move to a shared date for future changes to minimum wage rates within the region.

Additional information can be found in the backgrounder bellow.

"When we combine our efforts, we can more effectively tackle common issues, such as regulatory burden, which is often cited as an impediment to economic development. We look forward to the same type of collaborative approach with Ottawa” said Premier MacLauchlan. “We recognize that strong partnerships, with our federal government and within our region, are critical to our continued growth and prosperity.”

A strong partnership with the Government of Canada is a key element in strengthening the economy of the Maritime Provinces. Premiers look forward to a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his new government. By investing in strategic infrastructure, supporting population growth plans, strengthening the region’s workforce, and partnering to address the unique health needs of Atlantic Canadians, the federal government can be a key partner in regional collaboration and provinces’ strategies for growth.


BACKGROUNDER

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: MARITIME 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 THREE MARITIME 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 THREE MARITIME 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 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.


Premiers’ Charter of Governing Principles for Regulation

Leading jurisdictions on regulatory reform and modernization adopt principles that guide regulators. The following statement of principles reflects the Maritime Premiers’ vision for regulation in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and takes into account leading national and international practices.

Premiers’ Charter of Governing Principles for Regulation ("Charter")

Regulation is a powerful and sometimes necessary instrument of public policy that can support efficient and effective markets and protect consumers, workers, and the health, safety and environment of citizens and communities. But it has limits. And there are often better instruments of public policy than regulation.

Experience shows that unnecessary or outmoded regulation can distort markets, unduly burden citizens, businesses and governments, and impede economic growth. Given this, regulation should never be an instrument of first resort, and should be deployed only when necessary and where there is clearly no better policy alternative.

A. Statement of Fundamental Intent on Regulation

1. The Government will regulate to achieve its policy objectives only

a. having demonstrated that satisfactory outcomes cannot be achieved by alternative self-regulatory or non-regulatory approaches;

b. where analysis of the costs and benefits demonstrates that the regulatory approach is superior by a clear margin to alternative, self-regulatory or non-regulatory approaches;

c. where the regulation and the enforcement framework can be implemented in a fashion which is demonstrably proportionate, accountable, consistent, accessible, targeted and predictable;

and d. where the regulation and associated process is consistent with the Guidelines set out in section B below.

2. There is a general presumption that regulation should not impose costs and obligations on business, social enterprises, individuals and community groups unless a robust and compelling case has been made to do so.

B. Guidelines for Developing and Assessing Regulation

1. The policy need should be clearly articulated at the outset

  • illustrate how the need relates to relevant policy goals

2. Regulation should be the only effective and necessary way to meet the policy need

  • a full range of regulatory and non-regulatory instruments and options is identified (e.g. do nothing; educate; improve information sharing; use the market; use financial or other incentives; self-regulate; voluntary codes of practice)
  • regulation is shown to be clearly and demonstrably superior to other alternatives
  • other alternatives are shown not to be effective in achieving a satisfactory outcome
  • assessment of alternatives is based on best available evidence

3. Regulation should be a tempered response

  • is proportionate to the issue being addressed
  • is targeted to the area of need
  • is the lightest form of regulation required to achieve the policy outcome
  • does not unduly burden those being regulated
  • takes into account the entire burden and impact of existing regulation on the regulated in considering the adoption of new regulation
  • is considered and predictable and, barring compelling urgency, is not a rushed response to current events

4. Regulation should be accountable

  • the costs and burdens of regulation are measurable
  • the impact of regulation is assessed before it is adopted and outcomes are monitored afterward
  • regulators and the regulated are accountable for an effective regulatory system and compliance, respectively
  • regulation and the measurement of its performance and impact is evidence-based, objective and free from bias
  • existing regulation should be systematically reviewed for compliance with the Charter

5. Regulation should be accessible and easy to comply with

  • the process of making and monitoring regulation represents affected parties and is transparent
  • representations from affected parties are solicited and considered in a timely and meaningful way in making and monitoring regulation
  • regulation does not introduce unnecessary complexity by duplicating legislation or conflicting or overlapping with other regulations, requirements or forms already in place
  • regulation should be written to be understood and complied with by the regulated as opposed to serving the administrative or drafting convenience of the regulator
  • regulation should not be harder to comply with than equivalent regulation in relevant jurisdictions
  • regulation should consider the critical importance of strong customer service values and standards in achieving high regulatory performance

6. Regulation should consider economic impact

  • promotes a fair and competitive market economy
  •  promotes ease of interprovincial commerce
  • presumed not to have the effect of creating an obstacle to internal or international trade
  • presumed that the measured cost or burden of new regulation is at least offset by a reduction in the cost or burden of existing regulation

7. Good regulatory governance

  • the responsibility of regulating, and of demonstrating that regulation is justified under this Charter, is that of the department, agency or office whose mandate includes the policy need the regulation seeks to address
  •  the Office of Regulatory Reform and Service Effectiveness is an independent advisory office of government, reporting to the Premiers, which oversees and advises on the application of the Charter and the adoption of regulatory best practices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

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Media Contact: Mary Moszynski
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