Statistics Canada Survey of Regulatory Compliance Costs
Nova Scotia’s Focus
The first Statistics Canada survey on regulatory compliance costs was recently completed.
Businesses across Canada, including Nova Scotia, were surveyed in 2005 and the results were
compiled and analyzed in late 2006. The survey measured the time and money spent by small and
medium sized businesses* to understand and comply with administrative requirements such as
completing forms and reporting information.
The cost of compliance survey is important to Nova Scotia because the findings provide a greater
understanding of the regulatory burden perceived by business. The survey also helps the province
track its progress on reducing this burden through the Better Regulation Initiative, which is
currently working to measure the paperwork burden, and wait times for licences, permits, and
The province chose four measures from the Statistics Canada survey that will track business
perceptions of government’s effectiveness in making it easier to do business from a regulatory
perspective. The highlights are presented below and can be viewed at
The Statistics Canada survey will be repeated in three years. By that time, the Better Regulation
Initiative anticipates indicators will show that the province’s efforts to reduce the regulatory
burden have paid off.
*Fewer than 500 employees and Revenues between $30,000-$50 million
Profile of Small Business in Nova Scotia
97 percent of businesses in Nova Scotia are small to medium size with 100 employees or less.
The survey revealed that 90% of respondents employ 0 to
19 employees, and earn less than $1 million per year.
These findings are consistent with the makeup of business
in Atlantic Canada and across the country.
We know small businesses feel the burden of regulation
more than larger firms. This profile of business highlights
the critical nature of government’s challenge to reduce the
regulatory burden for small business.
The following results measures represent the areas that the Better Regulation Initiative is
strategically targeting for improvement over the next three years.
Nova Scotia cost of compliance
About $246 per employee. The Atlantic average is $220, the lowest in the country, followed by
Quebec at $229 per employee. The Canadian average is higher at $305 per employee, making the
cost of compliance in Nova Scotia 80% of the Canada average.
The graph above shows the total cost of compliance increasing for larger businesses primarily
because they have more employees and larger operations. The average cost per employee,
though, decreases the larger the firm. Again, this highlights the relatively larger regulatory
burden borne by smaller business.
To put the regulatory burden in perspective: The province’s businesses submit 439,000
documents a year at a cost of $30.6 million. It takes the equivalent of 388 workers to complete
these administrative requirements.
Where does Nova Scotia want to be by 2010?
The province’s cost of compliance is currently 80 percent of the Canada average. The Better
Regulation Initiative wants to maintain Nova Scotia’s position below the Canadian average, and
ensure we remain competitive with the other Atlantic provinces.
Perceived level of regulation
30 percent of businesses surveyed in 2005 thought the cost of complying with regulation had
increased over the previous three years. 55 percent of these businesses said this is due to
increased complexity of regulation, while 38% say the rising cost is due to an increased volume
of submissions. 26% attribute an increase to more regulations.
Businesses across the country have much the same views except for the Prairies where more
businesses perceive that regulation is increasing while in Quebec, fewer say they note an
Where do we want to be by 2010?
We want businesses to recognize that work to reduce the regulatory burden is underway and
results are obvious. By 2010, fewer businesses will report that the regulatory burden is
Level of service to business
Nova Scotian businesses say they wait 0.8 weeks for provincial permits, the same as the Atlantic
average, but longer than the national average of 0.5 weeks. While this appears to be excellent
turnaround time, results indicate that it is twice the wait for municipal permits in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia is pleased that businesses perceive shorter wait times, but the reality is some permits
are very complex with significant wait times. Drivers licences are immediate, but a septic system
permit may take two weeks, while approval to open a restaurant might take months. Streamlining
paperwork, and attention to service standards could help improve turnaround on permits.
Where do we want to be by 2010?
We want Nova Scotia business to have the same service experience as the average Canadian
In the area of on-line compliance, more Nova Scotians reported filing documents electronically
than the Canada average.
While paper filling is still an option, the Better Regulation Initiative has been working to make
on-line applications and submissions easier with tools such as BizPal and the Nova Scotia
Business Registry. With a successful broadband pilot project nearing completion, more
businesses throughout the province will have access to high speed internet and greater
opportunity to comply on-line.
Where do we want to be by 2010?
Accessible, faster on-line service providing businesses with the incentive to use this mode of
compliance. Nova Scotia will maintain its lead over the Canada average for firms submitting
their requirements on-line.
These measures are only a few of those included in the full report of the Regulatory Cost of
Compliance Survey. They have been selected because they are reliable indicators of the
regulatory burden experienced by small to medium size businesses in Nova Scotia. The
province’s progress against these indicators will be measured and reported in the next three
Other measures in the report provide very useful information on additional aspects of regulation
and will be referenced to support the directions and plans of the Better Regulation Initiative.
Five industrial sectors
• Retail Trade
• Scientific and Technical Services
• Accommodation Services and Other Services
• Payroll Remittances
• Record of Employment
• T4 Summary/Individual T4's
• Workers’ Compensation Remittances
• T1/T2 Income Tax Filing
• Federal/Provincial Sales Taxes
• Corporate Tax Instalments
• Corporate Registration
• Mandatory Statistics Canada Surveys
• Municipal Operating Licences and Permits
• Provincial Licenses and Permits
Small and medium-sized establishments
Fewer than 500 Employees and Revenues between $30,00 and $50 million
Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Paris and British Columbia