HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia children’s entertainment company owner says provincial red tape has left his bouncy houses uninflated, as he waits to get the safety course he needs to operate.
In an interview Friday, Lonnie Dugas of Brookfield, N.S., said he bought the business last fall and was told by the former owner that he would need to take the Labour Department’s elevator lifts safety course.
Dugas said he immediately got his name on a waiting list for the course, which is run through the Nova Scotia Community College, but has been told it wouldn’t be run until there are enough people to take it.
He said he has heard little back from the Labour Department in the meantime.
“I tried to contact the elevators and lifts people to find out if there are other ways to deal with this. I’m sitting here paying for a loan on a business that I can’t make any money off of.”
Dugas said it’s a classic case of red tape hurting the little guy.
“You want to run a reputable business, you want to have your insurance and registration and you don’t want to be subject to fines,” he said. “If I just go out and start advertising everywhere government would step in.”
Dugas said he was told by the former owner that the course consists of an instructor reading from a set of Duo-Tangs followed by a written test. He said if that’s the case he doesn’t understand why there aren’t online options.
Dugas said his frustration led him to contact his local Progressive Conservative member of the legislature, Larry Harrison, to see what could be done. Harrison brought up Dugas’ plight during the legislature’s question period on Friday.
Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis later told reporters that the department was unaware of the complaint and had no record of contact with Dugas.
“We have offered this course three times in the last year and we will be offering it again,” said Kousoulis. “We will be reaching out to this individual and making sure that he knows when the next course is and I will make sure that it happens in a timely manner.”
But in a check back with Dugas, he told The Canadian Press that he had exchanged emails with a department official named Peter McClare. The contact was later confirmed by a department spokeswoman although she said they could only find one text message.
She also said Dugas would be offered the course immediately, regardless of whether the eight people needed for a course to begin are registered.
To add to the confusion, department officials also said the course Dugas needs is actually an amusement safety course, which they will soon have online for easier access.
They said a total of three such safety courses are typically run in the spring — between March and June — when many amusement companies begin their seasons.