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Alberta’s red tape cut by 33 per cent, says Nally

Critics warn of potential public hazards from regulation cutting
Red tape reduction Minister Dale Nally speaks at a press conference held at St. Albert Place to celebrate reducing 33 per cent of the province's red tape. RILEY TJOSVOLD/St. Albert Gazette

The Government of Alberta has made great strides in its quest to rid the province of “red tape,” according to Dale Nally, minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction and MLA for Morinville-St. Albert.

Nally stopped by St. Albert Place on Monday for Red Tape Reduction Awareness Week, an event run by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, to announce that the government has reached its goal “to cut red tape across the province by one-third.”

He was joined by Grant Hunter, the province’s first red tape reduction minister and current MLA for Taber-Warner.

“The first thing that [Hunter] did was to count the entire red tape in this province,” Nally said. “[He was] adamant that the first thing that we're going to do is we're going to quantify it and count how much red tape we've cut.”

Nally said the province has reduced 200,000 regulations. The Gazette reached out for a list to confirm this number but did not hear back before deadline.

A 2022-23 annual report from Nally’s office says that the ministry has implemented more than 675 red tape reduction initiatives and claims it has saved “Albertans, Alberta businesses and the government” more than $2.75 billion since 2018.

In the spring, Nally will introduce legislation to “put some guardrails around” red tape reduction, he said.

“We're not just going to break our arms patting ourselves on the back and say the job is done,” he said. “That means actually having accountability spelled out in legislation by each minister and how they’re required to report … how much red tape they've introduced and how much they’ve reduced.”

An audience gathered at the event saw a video that featured Premier Danielle Smith, Nally and several UCP MLAs slashing through red tape with a pair of scissors and detailing the ways the provincial government has reduced regulations in the province.

Among these were changing the approach to funding non-profits and social service providers, eliminating the Alberta Indian tax exemption card in favour of the federal status card and allowing Albertans to access registry services online.

Councillor and current Deputy Mayor Sheena Hughes also took the podium on Monday to describe how St. Albert has simplified its building development permit and business licence renewal processes. She highlighted the city’s partnership with the province to twin Ray Gibbons Drive.

Shelly Nichol, executive director of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, commended Nally’s efforts to “reduce bureaucracy” around the province’s condominium licensing system.

Dr. Nigel Bankes, a professor emeritus in the law faculty at the University of Calgary, pointed to the E. Coli outbreak that infected hundreds of children in Calgary last September, and the tailings leak at Imperial Oil’s Kearl oilsands mine, as potential public hazards that accumulate when the government relentlessly pursues regulation cutting.

“The UCP’s accounting only has a credit column: costs cut  — easy to calculate; there is no similar column for harms suffered,” he said in an email to the Gazette. “One is measurable, the other is hard. And because it is hard it gets a zero in the debit column.”

A press release from the province about the red tape reduction milestone says that Alberta’s government aims to regulate “only when needed and with the lightest touch possible” to ensure the health and safety of Albertans and protect the province’s environment.

About the Author: Riley Tjosvold

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