A competitive business environment is the underpinning of a progressive, vibrant economy. A recent Deloitte report, Making Regulation a Competitive Advantage, focused on the importance of regulation and how intricately linked it is to overall economic prosperity. Effective regulation can reduce the regulatory burden faced by businesses, and in turn, improve the overall investment attractiveness and ease of doing business. A flexible and responsive regulatory environment is the foundation of a thriving private sector. This is particularly important for small businesses, and with BDC Small Business Week upon us, it is an opportune time to shine a spotlight on how ONB supports this important work.

Via its Competitive Regulation Team, ONB works collaboratively with departments, agencies, and other Crown corporations to identify and reduce the regulatory burden that exists for businesses. Having surpassed the goal of $14M in reductions in Fiscal 2020-2021, the government of New Brunswick set a new goal of realizing additional reductions of $16.5M in regulatory burden by March 31, 2024. In the first year of the three-year target, net regulatory burden reductions estimated at $34.3M have been achieved through a whole-of-government effort spanning more than 25 distinct projects.

While this is fantastic, we know there is more work to be done. ONB is committed to continuing its work with stakeholders in both the private and public sectors with a view toward improving the overall competitiveness of New Brunswick as a place where businesses can grow and prosper. With 90+ projects from across government currently in the business impact assessment phase, we are confident more regulatory burden will be eliminated moving forward.

Regulatory Burden and Red Tape

Regulatory burden and ‘red tape’ are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to define both.

A regulatory burden refers to the time and monetary costs required for businesses to comply with regulation, legislation, policy, procedure, or practices. It can include the time spent on paperwork and/or inspections, or government services and processes that, when changed, have an impact on business. Burdens include expenditures, fees, and time spent on compliance, including finding information, applying for, and receiving permission from government to operate. Note: taxation, minimum wage, and government spending are excluded.

Red tape, meanwhile, refers to the excessive burden imposed by regulations and processes which have the potential to impact the cost of doing business. These challenges can make it difficult for businesses to comply with requirements or to access programs or services.

It is widely understood that regulation in some form – justified regulatory burden – will always be necessary to achieve specific policy outcomes and allow the civil functioning of society. The challenge lies in finding the right balance.

ONB’s Role

Annually, ONB’s Business Development Executives (BDEs) work with over a thousand businesses from every corner of the province. This team has a robust understanding of the pain points that exist for business owners and works across government to mitigate those challenges whenever possible. Complementing the work being done by our BDEs, the Business Navigation Team launched in 2019 brings an extra layer of regulatory support to New Brunswick businesses. Despite the challenges of the past two years, the Business Navigators continued to provide quality support to any business owner or entrepreneur navigating regulations associated with starting, owning, and operating a business in New Brunswick. The total dollar value in terms of regulatory burden savings resulting from the Navigators’ support was $889,187 for the fiscal year of 2021-2022. This is a tangible testament to the value they bring to New Brunswickers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs throughout the province.

It Starts with Policy

Policy development, at its core, can be used as an enabler of effective economic development. That is why ONB’s Policy, Competitive Regulation and Operational Excellence Team works to ensure that a business lens is applied to government’s regulatory decisions. At ONB, we understand how policy decisions can impact the day-to-day operations of our businesses. For this reason, our Policy team is asking the tough questions that need to be considered when government examines any potential regulatory burden. How are other provinces handling regulation(s)? Is this regulation working effectively elsewhere? Are there harmonization opportunities that can align New Brunswick with other jurisdictions, making it easier for businesses to operate in both jurisdictions? Are there permits and licenses that can be combined into one application process? Are businesses already complying with a proposed regulation because it simply makes good business sense? All these questions (and more) form the basis of good business-centric policymaking.

“ONB’s role includes working with other areas of the public sector to ensure a business lens is applied to policy decisions whenever possible,” says Traci Simmons, ONB Chief Operating Officer. “By ensuring NB offers a competitive business environment, our businesses can thrive and meet their full potential.”

ONB’s competitive regulation initiative is marrying the work already being done every day with individual clients and formalizing it as much as possible to the benefit of all businesses operating in the province. The people behind our Competitive Regulation Initiative continue to connect with business owners and other stakeholders in order to better understand how New Brunswick can become an even better jurisdiction for world-class businesses to thrive.

Be sure to read our 2021-2022 Annual Report on Ensuring Regulatory Competitiveness for a complete look at our efforts at reducing regulatory burden on NB businesses. If you encounter regulatory obstacles of your own, please let the ONB team know. We are here to help.

Ensure Competitive Regulation Initiative:

The Business Navigator Service is available 8:15 am-4:30 pm, Monday to Friday: