Western provinces first to adopt digital tool to streamline trade within Canada

Mark Mann
July 8, 2020

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the first jurisdictions to implement a digital solution to improve business registration and reporting. Led by Ottawa, governments across the country co-created the Multi-Jurisdictional Registry Access Service (MRAS) under the regulatory reconciliation process of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), in an effort to help entrepreneurs start and expand businesses in Canada more readily. The project was spearheaded in 2018 as part of a wider effort to build a seamless internal market within Canada.

“People using this new service will find it easier to register their business in multiple provinces, and efficiently complete necessary paperwork through one central hub,” Anne Kang, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services, said in a statement.

Until adopting MRAS, each of the Western provinces used its own processes and systems for corporations and limited partnerships to conduct business registrations and maintenance filings, forcing multi-jurisdictional businesses to duplicate their reporting and registration fees. By connecting the federal, provincial and territorial business registries, MRAS aims to simplify interprovincial business processes, increase transparency by facilitating corporate information sharing, and ultimately accelerate economic trade across the country.

The adoption of MRAS by the Western provinces — who together form the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, created in 2010 (with Manitoba joining in 2016) — represents an extension of the MRAS-enabled Canada's Business Registries, a free online platform launched in 2018 to augment business visibility by enabling users to search the official registries of Alberta, British Columbia, Corporations Canada, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan — that is, over 80 percent of corporations operating in Canada. Corporations Canada will follow suit and join MRAS in the fall, with other Canadian registries expected to follow.

“We’re committed to improving corporate transparency and reducing internal trade barriers for Canadian businesses,” wrote Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains in a press release. “The adoption of the Multi-Jurisdictional Registry Access Service by the four western provinces is the result of a successful collaboration that will bring tangible benefits to businesses. As the economy turns the corner on the pandemic, businesses can rest assured that our government is making it easier for them to invest and create jobs.”


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