In the small town of Saint Georges, pointless
red tape had one of its many victims jumping through hoops… or in this case, stuck in
the gutter. When I first went into the bowling business here, I had 16 bowling alleys. Back then, it cost $100 per year per alley to have a mandatory sticker to install on a pinsetter, plus application fees. We started adding pool tables, ping-pong tables
and a few arcade machines. But we still had the regulations to contend with – and in
fact, they hit us even harder. And when we had arcade machines where you could win a free game, the cost of the sticker went from $100 or $115 to $300, $350. When you have 10, 15 or 20 arcade machines
and are paying $350 a year for each one, that’s a lot of money. That’s why several arcades are now closed. I didn’t understand why we had to pay these bills and handle all this paperwork when quite a few bowling alleys were having a hard time making ends meet. That didn’t make any sense to me. And there wasn’t much we could do.
So, after a while, I started talking about this issue. It bothered me so much that I
decided to contact CFIB and I told them: “We really need you guys to go to work for us.” When Christian called us and explained his
situation we immediately launched our own investigation. We talked to other amusement
centre owners in Quebec and we read the legislation and decided we needed to take action and resolve
this issue once and for all. So we contacted Quebec’s Liquor, Racing
and Gaming Authority. We showed them that massive amounts of time and money were being
spent on this ridiculous regulation by the small business owners who could least afford
it. But that’s not all we did. Every January we run an event called Red Tape
Awareness week where we expose outrageous regulations across Canada by giving them Paperweight
Awards. So we gave a Paperweight Award to this regulation. We wanted to increase the
pressure on the province to fix this issue by bringing it to the public’s attention. Soon after I arrived as a minister, we received the Paperweight Award, which is not a prestigious prize. And so when we received this award I told myself, we have to work on that. This is unacceptable. Now, more than 80% of the amusement equipment don’t need to be registered anymore. So people can register the whole building instead,
saving $1.3 million every year, saving a lot of energy and a lot of administrative exasperation.
With pressure coming from all sides, the Gaming Authority showed some flexibility, for which I am grateful. This openness to change will be a good thing because it will help business owners move forward and generate more duties and taxes. This is a great example of the power CFIB and its members possess to shape regulations
for small business. But unfortunately, Christian’s not alone–there are many more small business
owners in Canada dealing with unfair rules and regulations. I want to encourage all business owners to follow his lead and reach out to us whenever they have workplace issues they want to talk about. Over the years that I’ve worked for myself,
I’ve learned that group power is nothing to sneer at. As business owners, we need to stop working in isolation and seize opportunities to talk to one another. We need to stand together as a group and make the most of our collective power. That’s exactly what CFIB is all about. It’s about working as a group and realizing that this may take some effort and that things don’t always happen as fast as we’d like.
But I believe we can all take a small step together and, when we do take this small step, we all win. That’s the power of a group, plain and simple.