Regulation matters: Progress made in Canada offers lessons for Washington

The Washington Research Council comments on and links to a report on Canadian regulatory reform. We recommend you read the whole thing and then go to the linked papers. This from the WRC post:

Tyler Cowen links to a recent paper on Canadian regulatory reform by Laura Jones of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. In April, Canada enacted the Red Tape Reduction Act, under which the federal government must eliminate at least one regulation if it wants to create a new one.

The national policy stems from an innovation in British Columbia which had a decided impact on regulatory policy.

BC’s regulatory reform dates back to 2001 when a newly elected government put in place policies to make good on its ambitious election promise to reduce the regulatory burden by one-third in three years. The results have been impressive. The government has reduced regulatory requirements by 43 percent relative to when the initiative started. During this time period, the province went from being one of the poorest-performing economies in the country to being among the best. While there were other factors at play in the BC’s economic turnaround, members of the business community widely credit red tape reduction with playing a critical role.

As the WRC points out, we made regulatory reform one of our “priorities for prosperity.” 

Streamline the regulatory system to improve predictability and efficiency.

In our foundation report we wrote,

In discharging its regulatory responsibilities, the state should strive to maintain necessary safeguards while assuring predictable regulatory policies and processes, administrative efficiency, and coordination among agencies at all levels of government to avoid duplication. 

…Addressing regulatory policy typically involves two dimensions: determining whether the regulations themselves are reasonable, and judging how efficiently they are administered. In terms of regulatory content, Washington regulations routinely exceed the minimums required by federal law…While regulations ultimately reflect Washingtonians’ policy preferences, they should be regularly reviewed to see if, for example, the benefits justify the added costs of compliance. 

The Canadian approach to reform, which so far seems to be paying off, is worth a second look from policymakers here.