Peter Boag
President and CEO, Canadian Fuels Association

June 2019

Harmonize provincial renewable fuel regulations: A call for premiers to show leadership

Reducing red tape – costly, inefficient or ineffective regulation of businesses – is a front burner issue for a number of provincial premiers and their governments.   Consider the following:
  • In April, the Ontario government put in place legislation to cut red tape and reduce the regulatory burden facing businesses.  The Restoring Ontario's Competitiveness Act focuses on cutting business costs, harmonizing regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, ending duplication and reducing barriers to investment.   The legislation was accompanied by the establishment of a Red Tape Burden Reduction Office, reporting directly to the Premier, under the leadership of a dedicated Deputy Minister.
 
  • Earlier this month, the Alberta government passed its own Red Tape Reduction Act.   Simple and to the point – the Act gives Cabinet broad powers to enact and eliminate regulations and holds a designated Minister accountable for reporting publicly on government actions to eliminate and prevent unnecessary regulatory and administrative requirements.  It follows through on the new government’s campaign commitment for a Red Tape Reduction Action Plan. 
 
  • Saskatchewan has also been a leader in modernizing regulations with the aim of reducing regulatory costs and removing barriers to growth. Saskatchewan’s efforts to reduce red tape and modernize regulations in the province received an ‘A’ grade ranking from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in its 2019 national Red Tape Report Card.  
Added to this, last fall, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Ontario Premier Doug Ford signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to show leadership within Canada on reducing internal trade barriers and exploring opportunities for greater regulatory harmonization.  The first initiative is harmonization of regulations for the use of wide-base single tires, making it easier for trucking companies to ship goods between provinces.

Harmonization of renewable fuel standards is low-hanging fruit for the premiers and governments that are championing red tape reduction and greater inter-provincial harmonization.  It’s also an opportunity to show their commitment to action that is in the interests of all Canadian consumers.

Today, there are six different regulatory regimes in Canada that mandate renewable content in motor fuels – five provincial and one federal.  They impose twelve different requirements – six each for gasoline and diesel.  And more are on the way – new regulatory requirements have been proposed or are under development in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and at the federal level. 

This market fragmentation by regulation creates unnecessary complexity and inefficiencies, and adds costs to supplying Canadians with the fuels they rely on every day. It also increases the risk of fuel supply disruptions by impeding the movement of fuel from one province to another, while delivering little in the way of benefits.   From a pure common sense perspective, it’s absurd.  You can drive the same car from coast to coast, but governments have decided that you must use different fuel as you pass from one province to another!

Next month’s Council of the Federation meeting in Saskatoon is the time for Premiers committed to red tape reduction to show leadership with their peers and chart a path forward to a coherent, harmonized approach to fuels regulation.

All Canadians deserve a common-sense common approach to fuels regulation from coast to coast.   Canadian Fuels Association