Inefficient bureaucracy repeatedly cited in suggestions to cut Alberta’s red tape

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At least one person believes that the Alberta government could improve the province’s fortunes by negotiating a strategic deal with B.C.: You let us build our pipeline and we’ll take back Nickelback.

Fortunately, that response was a one-off among the almost 2,300 comments provided during the first month of the Alberta government’s online survey seeking input on how to cut government red tape. Cutting government bureaucracy was the most common suggestion, representing a fifth of the 2,291 responses sent to the Cut Red Tape crowdsourcing tool between June 24 through July 24. CBC News obtained the full list of comments through a freedom of information (FOIP) request. An analysis of the responses — which answered the “Tell us the problem and how it affects you?” — found that many flagged inefficiencies in provincial departments and government services. These ranged from suggestions of too many managers in government, problems with the health-care system, the return of standardized tests for Grade 3 students and problems within Alberta Health Services. That emphasis on bureaucracy makes sense to Chaldeans Mensah, professor of political science at MacEwan University, who believes department red tape is a hot topic for many Albertans. “We all want quick and efficient services when dealing with government,” he said. “We want to avoid too many onerous rules and to understand things efficiently.”

Anonymous thoughts, personal stories Questions in the form identified as optional include the complainant’s email address, postal code and suggestions on how to fix the problem they have identified. People could post their thoughts anonymously and they were able to submit the form numerous times. Although all private information was removed from the 552 pages provided to CBC News, the responses often detailed specific and personal examples of how inefficiencies have affected them. Education was a frequent topic, as was red tape experienced by businesses in the oil and gas sector, the minimum wage and long waits for Graduated Driver Licence (GDL) road tests. Some people took a cheeky approach to the form. One person simply put “Boaty McBoatface” in the comment section, while another complained about it taking too long to get a burger at a restaurant. “I went to a fast-food restaurant and it took more than 15 minutes to get my burger because the teen was allowed a break to go to the washroom,” they wrote. Back to more serious issues, other comments cited specific concerns with environmental policies and a lack thereof, AISH and the United Conservative Party’s promised “war room.” In a similar vein, some commenters took a run at the red tape ministry itself, which is led by MLA Grant Hunter. “Literally, there’s a special kind of irony in a Conservative government, priding itself on low taxes, low government interference, etc. in appointing an Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction,” wrote one person. Some of the comments were influenced by news stories at the time. For example, on the same day the online red tape reduction form was launched, school superintendents were told by the deputy education minister that standardized tests for Grade 3 students would arrive “in coming years.”