Ontario Accepts CFIB’s Challenge to “Axe the Fax”
TORONTO — The Ontario government has accepted the challenge from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) to embrace digital technologies that make it easier for people and businesses to deal with government.
This morning, the CFIB posted an open letter to governments across Canada urging them to take at least one meaningful step in 2020 to replace fax machines and outdated paper forms with digital technologies.
Ontario agrees that using only paper-based methods imposes unnecessary costs in time and money for businesses to apply for licences and permits, or to comply with regulations. That’s why the province is improving and streamlining how it interacts with people and businesses.
“Outdated forms and paper-based processes are the red tape of 2020,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “With technologies available today, people and businesses shouldn’t have to waste time and money dealing with the government by fax or mail. We’re going to continue to be a leader in embracing digital technologies to make it simpler and faster to interact with the government.”
Ontario’s red tape reduction measures have included an extensive series of actions to shift away from paper. For example:
- Ontario has allowed auto insurance companies to provide electronic proof of insurance on mobile devices, giving consumers the option to keep an electronic insurance card on their cellphone instead of, or as well as, a paper version.
- Since Ontario launched a new Fish and Wildlife Licensing Service, nearly half of Ontarians who purchase a hunting and fishing licence do so online instead of waiting in line.
- To ensure that waste is properly stored, transported, recycled, recovered and disposed of, Ontario is moving to an electronic registry for waste. This includes a system that will enable tracking in real time of where hazardous waste is being transported and stored across the province, moving away from slower paper reporting.
- Ontario is allowing pension plan administrators to communicate electronically with plan members as well as by traditional mail.
In 2020, pharmaceutical manufacturers that submit applications for new drugs to be covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit Program — which average 750 to 1,000 pages — can do so electronically instead of on paper in multiple binders.
The province is improving the quality of service delivery for businesses and people by adopting new digital practices and technologies. For example:
- It is improving digital platforms for online services to make them an even easier option than mail or applying in-person. More Ontarians are now going online to register a business or renew their driver’s licence or health card. For example, in 2018–19, 92 per cent of Ontarians went online to access birth certificate services.
- It is amending a long list of laws and regulations to enable electronic communication and improve processes that support online service delivery.
“Every day, our government is working to improve services and transform how we do business in Ontario,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “Our approach to digital first, not digital only, will allow Ontarians to access government services the way they choose. Through the Digital First Strategy, we are continuing to improve service delivery across the province while reducing the need for old technology.”
- CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses. It has 110,000 members, including over 42,000 in Ontario.
- For the second straight year, CFIB has given Ontario an A- in its annual Red Tape Report Card. That was the province’s highest grade ever — and a marked improvement from the C+ grade Ontario earned in 2018 under the previous government.
- Ontario has set a target of reducing business costs by $400 million by June 2020 through regulatory modernization efforts, including digitalization. As of November 2019, the province had achieved $338 million in reduced regulatory costs to business.