Retailers are faced with a slew of inconsistent regulations both between major trading partners and within our own country. These differences add administrative burden, reduce availability of products and increase cost for Canadian consumers. RCC is working both domestically and internationally to gain commitments to do away with unnecessary red tape. Change in this area will be slow, but we will not be deterred from working to reduce costs for retailers in Canada by harmonizing government regulations. The following provides details on current efforts and the steps we have taken towards a simpler regulatory future.

Regulatory Inconsistencies Between Provinces:

Issue:
If you are operating in more than one province, you have no doubt experienced the challenge of complying with varying standards, rules, regulations and testing requirements across the country. Retailers are principally impacted by regulatory inconsistencies in three broad categories: labour and employment, food and product regulations and environmental/stewardship regimes. In many cases, these regulations are different between provinces for no good reason and they simply cost retailers’ time and money.

Current Situation:
On May 3, Retail Council of Canada (RCC) had an opportunity to present its views on the subject to the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce who is currently studying barriers to internal trade. In its testimony, RCC urged the government to act immediately by establishing a council of Federal, Provincial and Industry representatives to evaluate the varying regulations across the country and abolish/harmonize/mutually recognize those that are different for no reason.

RCC will be making the same recommendation to the Committee on Internal Trade (comprising of all provincial trade ministers) who are currently renewing the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). The AIT is important because it can legislate RCC’s recommendations into the agreement. The committee will be considering a final agreement in July.

Next Steps:
Our object is to ensure that the new Agreement on Internal Trade includes a commitment to address regulatory inconsistencies. Though this process may take time, the opportunity to align regulations across the country is significant and it will lead to considerable cost savings for members.

Regulatory Inconsistencies Abroad:

Issue:
Regulatory inconsistencies also impact retailers who source products from the U.S. into Canada because the two countries have different standards and testing requirements on products which do not affect safety outcomes. This limits the number of products available to Canadians and often increases the cost of these products, as re-engineering and re-testing are required for the Canadian markets. This particularly impacts juvenile products such as car seats, pyjamas, strollers and cribs.

Current Situation:
At the U.S. – Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council meeting in Washington on May 4, RCC tabled its concerns with the impact of inconsistent regulations on product availability and cost. RCC recommended that the two countries focus on juvenile products as a starting point, citing child car seats as an example where Canadians pay 30% more and have far less choice. Officials from both countries will be considering stakeholder recommendations and determining priority items. RCC will be assisting in this process by providing necessary data to support harmonization on car seats.

Next Steps:
Though the process of aligning regulations between the U.S. and Canada is long, this is a measurable step in the right direction. RCC will be monitoring the progress of the Council and has committed to working with the Canadian government to achieve a harmonized regulatory approach.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Susie Grynol, Vice President, Federal Government Relations: [email protected] or 613-656-7901 or Jason McLinton, Senior Director, Federal Government Relations at [email protected] or 613-656-7903