2021 Surrey Government Red Tape Report Indicates Spiralling Compliance Costs to Business Says Surrey Board of Trade

The Surrey Board of Trade advocates for red tape reduction for businesses. Red tape is excessive bureaucracy, routines, rules and complexity at all levels of government which causes delays or unreasonable costs to businesses. Filing forms and applying for licenses are a part of doing business, however, the Surrey Board of Trade wants to ensure that it isn’t onerous on our business community. In the 2021 Red Tape Survey, over 72% of respondents indicated that the overall cost of compliance with regulations and needed paperwork by government has increased over the past two years at all levels of government.

“An increasing number of our respondents are finding regulatory compliance compromising growth and innovation,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “COVID-19 requirements have increased the cost and time spent on compliance for all industry sectors. We need to ensure that governments improve efficiency in order to limit the pressure on the business community, so that our economy can recover and grow. Perhaps we need to bring back a Red Tape Reduction Minister or Official concept at all levels of government.”

Summary of survey responses:

1.     Impact of compliance: 84.1% reported moderate to major impact for business to comply.

2.     Financial costs of compliance: 72.2% of respondents determined that overall costs have increased in the last 2 years.

3.     Time taken to fill out forms: 80% of respondents found the time taken to comply has increased in the last 2 years.

4.     Filing taxes: 35.9% now outsourcing income tax return filing.

5.     Agencies with the most red tape: 81.3% identified the Canada Revenue Agency as having moderate to high levels of red tape. 60.4% rated WorkSafeBC with moderate to high levels of red tape.

6.     Impediment to innovation: 61.8% of respondents reported that compliance is an impediment to growth and innovation.

7.     Measures that would reduce red tape: 89.6% of respondents thought agencies sharing information and making sure there are no duplicate information requirements is key to reducing the cost of compliance.

8.     Communication effectiveness at the local, provincial, and federal levels of government have gone down since 2020.

To this end, the Surrey Board of Trade recommends:

1.     Governments improve their instructions on regulatory compliance;

2.     That all levels of government improve their online service portals and call centre services, use clear language for instructions and ensure relevant links are up to date and working; and,

3.     Agencies share information and make sure there are no duplicate information requirements.


The Surrey Board of Trade is a not-for-profit city-building business organization that supports and attracts business. The organization has 6,000 member contacts and 60,000 employees. The Surrey Board of Trade focuses on red tape reduction to:

1.     Have a more predictable business environment

2.     Strengthen international trade

3.     Free up capital to invest in business, not in process

4.     Allow small businesses to compete and grow


Anita Huberman
President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade
PH: 604-634-0342