Nova Scotia is about to become an easier place to do business. Today, Jan. 25, the provincial government announced that it is working to save Nova Scotia businesses more than 123,000 hours of paperwork by 2010, an overall reduction of 20 per cent. The Better Regulation Initiative has been working to create simpler, more effective regulation that will cut time and expense for business, but also protect the public and the environment. The objective is to reduce paperwork for business by 20 per cent over the next four years. With the Better Regulation Index, the province now has a calculation of the hours businesses must spend on regulatory paperwork required by provincial departments. Nova Scotia businesses currently spend 615,000 hours each year on regulatory paperwork required by provincial government departments alone. In financial terms, that represents a cost of about $14 million annually. “If we want to make progress, we need to understand our starting point,” said Angus MacIsaac, chair of the Treasury and Policy Board and minister responsible for the Better Regulation Initiative. “The Better Regulation Index is part of our accountability to take action and reduce the paperwork burden in Nova Scotia over the next four years.” The index is one of several priorities of the Better Regulation Initiative. Identifying administrative burden on business start-ups and the operations of specific business sectors was an initial priority, along with centralizing information about government requirements for easy access by business. Other priorities include addressing the way regulation is designed, communicated and enforced. The Better Regulation Initiative’s goal is to make sure that government’s approach to regulation contributes to a prosperous business environment. “Government is working with business and the public to get regulation right,” said Mr. MacIsaac. “We know that Nova Scotia is at or below the national average for the cost of regulation. We will continue to protect citizens’ quality of life and to be sensitive to the burden regulations can place on business.” The index currently does not include any municipal or federal requirements or provincial agencies, commissions, and boards such as the Workers’ Compensation Board. The index is a starting point to improve and expand on, and is critical to getting progress underway. “The government has to be accountable for making it easier for businesses to deal with regulations. Measuring the amount of paperwork with the Better Regulation Index is a good start,” said Stéphane Robichaud, vice-president Atlantic Canada, Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “Businesses need to see the decrease in paperwork and want to see progress reported publicly.” The Better Regulation Initiative is a multi-pronged approach to improving the provincial government’s regulatory tools. It aims to maintain the benefits of regulation while making it easier to do business in Nova Scotia. It involves all departments of the Nova Scotia government in creating a culture of continuous improvement that will result in simpler, more effective regulation. Comments on the Better Regulation Initiative can be provided at www.gov.ns.ca/betterregulation .