If you look at the data, Canada has chronically low levels of business investment. I don't think it's entirely due to regulation, but obviously, that's one critical element of it. If we're going to increase prosperity for Canadians, I think one critical component of doing that is streamlining regulation. One of the things I would suggest the department needs to look at is doing an analysis of provincial and municipal regulations. I don't see how we can achieve a lighter regulatory burden while still achieving health and safety outcomes unless we know what the provinces and the municipalities are doing; otherwise, you have a situation where the left and right hands don't know what they're doing.
When you look at the levels of business investment we have in this country, we're somewhere around 10% of GDP on a non-residential basis. That's much lower than our major economic competitors south of the border and across the Atlantic. I think this is critically important for us to improve our competitiveness.
The thing that sticks in my mind about how ridiculous some of these regulations are is an incident with the National Capital Commission. Several years ago, two young children wanted to set up a lemonade stand and got slapped with a massive bureaucracy that wanted them to pay $1,500 for a permit. It created a huge outcry. What was so ridiculous about the whole situation was that, after the controversy, the NCC came forward with a new rule that, yes, allowed them to set up a lemonade stand, but it was subject to a plethora of conditions. It had to have bilingual signage. They had to report the revenues to the NCC. There was an indemnification clause. There were size restrictions and adherence to provincial health and safety regulations.
My kids live in Wellington County. They set up a lemonade stand and we didn't have to go through any of that. Nobody died because they drank my kids' lemonade. This happened in recent years; this wasn't 15 years ago.
We've been through a lot of this stuff in the last 15 years, yet we continue to slip in the rankings. We don't have the sense of where provincial and federal regulations are. One of the results is low levels of business investment and a sense that Canada can't attract business investment and can't get the economy moving.