Recently, the Canadian Government announced a plan to update the Agreement on Internal Trade. The Agreement came into force in 1995 with the goal of reducing “…barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services, and investment within Canada and to establish an open, efficient, and stable domestic market.” Since coming into effect, Industry Canada admits that the agreement has had limited success, with major outcomes including impacts on labour mobility, government procurement, and dispute resolution.
As it stands today, the Agreement is outdated and doesn’t cover all aspects of economic activity across Provincial and Territorial borders. Industry Canada has released a proposal to update the Agreement to make inter-Provincial/Territorial trade even easier for Canadian businesses.
Internal Trade Agreement: What is currently impacted?
There are three major aspects of inter-Provincial/Territorial trade that are currently hampered by the existing framework:
- The sale of regulated consumer goods across Provincial and Territorial boundaries
- The coordination of regulated jobs, specifically apprenticeship programs that have different requirements across boundaries
- Businesses are required to register and report where they operate and do business, which increases costs for those businesses who may be operating in several different provinces or jurisdictions
Many businesses who sell regulated consumer goods, such as wine and alcohol, face different regulatory restrictions and requirements when operating in different Provinces. For small businesses, such as micro-breweries and small grower wineries, this can cause a significant delay in moving product across the country, or worse – render them unable to ship across the country due to the high costs of regulation and the associated bureaucratic red-tape.
At the same time, we have a high demand for skilled labour across the country, but we lack a universal process for training apprentices, which restricts apprentices to completing their apprenticeship in the same province that they started in.
New West Partnership premiers are calling on their colleagues across Canada to work together to overhaul and modernize the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). They want to create an AIT that eliminates as many barriers as possible and provides opportunities for businesses to grow and economies to diversify.
— New West Partnership Premiers News Release, July 9, 2014
Internal Trade Agreement Update and a Pathway for Small Business Growth
Ultimately, an updated Agreement on Internal Trade will bring significant benefits to Canadian small businesses who are currently facing challenges with doing business across the Country. Businesses will face a simpler regulation process and incur less expenses in expansion beyond their home Province or Territory. Additionally, by adopting universal standards for apprenticeship and job training requirements in regulated and certified professions, businesses will benefit from the large labour pool that Canada has to offer.
Updating the Agreement on Internal Trade will provide easier routes for small businesses to grow and offer their products and services across the country.
Leverage Funding to Inter-Provincial Growth
Businesses can leverage existing funding opportunities, such as the Growing Forward 2 Program, to help manage supply chains and activities related to regulation and certification from inter-provincial and international trade. There are also many programs available to assist with other growth related projects, including aiding in equipment purchases, marketing developments, process improvements, hiring, and training. Speak to one of our funding experts today to learn more about small business funding in Canada.