Cathy McLeod discusses CRA red tape reduction initiatives at local roundtable
Only a handful of Merritt business owners took the opportunity to discuss concerns about Canada Revenue red tape with Cathy McLeod, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, at a round table on Thursday.
McLeod, also the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Member of Parliament, said she has held similar meetings with communities across the province to get feedback from people “on the ground level” and to share initiatives the CRA has introduced to reduce the burden on small businesses.
“We’ve been trying to take some steps to get rid of unnecessary red tape and make things easier for small businesses,” she told those gathered in the Merritt Culture Club on Thursday morning.
Through roundtable discussions, she said they have come up with 12 specific recommendations to reduce red tape including extending an automatic hiring credit for small businesses, and revising penalties for small business late filing fees.
Local reporters were asked to leave for the discussion portion of the round table; however, after the meeting McLeod said Merrittonians seemed most interested in education on what help is available for small businesses.
“When we meet with accountants they are focused on actual logistics — what forms would be helpful etc.,” she said. “Small business owners are hungry for information on what is available.”
Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas, also present at the meeting, said he heard similar concerns at a meeting in Merritt on Aug. 2.
“It reinforces that we need to work with chambers to put information packages together,” he said. “We really need to be relentless about making the information available.”
He said discussions with McLeod about the CRA are vital to small business owners, adding that small changes can lead to increased productivity.
Rob Miller, Community Futures Nicola Valley general manager, said locals also voiced suggestions regarding CRA customer service wait times.
“They said changes wouldn’t happen immediately, but they’ve made a soft commitment to look at the issue.”
McLeod and CRA representatives also spoke about resources already available for small business such at the My Business Account service, and BizPal, an online business permit and licensing service, which are designed to save business owners money.
When asked what her approximate travel budget was for her travels related to the round table meetings, McLeod did not give a specific figure. Instead, she spoke about how she has tried to stay with friends where possible.
“I’ve tried to make it a frugal process and still take the opportunity to hit communities of various sizes — to be in places like Merritt as well as Vancouver,” she said.