Monthly Archives May 2017

Thanks to a decision by Sarnia City Council this week, new and existing businesses will soon be able to access BizPaL, a Canada-wide system designed to simplify access to information about business permits, licences and other requirements needed to establish, operate and grow an enterprise.

Once this is set up, information about necessary permitting will be available through the portal, which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will add to when that occurs.

Marg Misek-Evans, Sarnia’s chief administrative officer, said now that City Council has approved the municipality joining the network—at no cost to the City—the implementation process will begin, making sure that the administrators have information on all the various permits required for all business sectors.

There is no fee for businesses doing the search other than that which they will incur for whatever permit is being sought. BizPaL was set up by the Federal Government under Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada in 2005. Provinces and territories (including Ontario) pay a fee for the use of the BizPaL network, but municipalities do not.

“This is definitely a service that our business community needs,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to updates regarding the implementation, which we understand will be coming shortly.”



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Members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are welcome to participate in a conference call to find out more about the Industrial Conservation Initiative, a cost savings program for manufacturers. The program has recently been expanded to electricity consumers with an average monthly peak of 500 kW or more.

The 90-minute call is hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and takes place next Thursday, June 1, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m. in the Chamber boardroom at 556 Christina St. N., Sarnia.

Those who cannot attend in person are invited to email Monica Shepley, Manager of Advocacy and Policy Development, for options on how to connect to the call.

The call is designed to give Chamber members in the manufacturing sector an opportunity to speak with professionals connected with the Ministry of Energy and the Independent Electricity System Operator as well as with Matt Brunette, the new Energy Liaison at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.


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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is looking ahead now that the Trump administration in the U.S. has notified Congress that it plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a “5 Minutes for Business” brief to members, Hendrik Brakel, the senior director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy at the Canadian Chamber, has outlined what might be expected now that this 90-day “heads up” period has been initiated by the U.S.

“Every special interest and aggrieved Wisconsin dairy producer will have a chance to provide input during the consultation period,” writes Brakel. “Then whatever new agreement is negotiated must pass the (U.S.) House and the Senate.”

Brakel notes that “all three governments—Canada, the U.S. and Mexico—want NAFTA 2.0 wrapped up ASAP. Canada wants to end the uncertainty that is hurting investment, and for our partners it is even more urgent.”

Pointing out that the original Free Trade Agreement involving Canada and the U.S. took 18 months to negotiate (“and our governments were the closest of friends during this period—May 1986 to October 4, 1987”), Brakel questions whether it is even possible to renegotiate NAFTA as soon as some politicians would hope.

“There may be another way,” writes Brakel of the OCC. “The USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) referred to NAFTA modernization as opposed to renegotiation. In the past, NAFTA has been amended extensively without going back to Congress. We could add a chapter on e-commerce, fix the rules of origin and sign a bunch of side letters that could give the Americans the win they need.”

Brakel closes his “5 Minutes for Business” letter with a word of optimism: “Let’s hope they take what they can get. Otherwise, NAFTA 2.0 is doomed.”

The complete edition of this “5 Minutes for Business” (a downloadable PDF) can be seen HERE.


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The City of Sarnia is now inviting local businesses to apply for a grant to install a charge station at their location, the purpose being to provide free power for mobility devices.

A news release from Dale Mosely, accessibility coordinator for the City, said the “Charge n’ Go” initiative follows an initiative that took place last year where the City partnered with the County of Lambton for mobility device charging stations at 13 public buildings and spaces, including parks, libraries, City Hall, Lambton Shared Services and Lambton Public Health.

The “Charge n’ Go” initiative includes a grant of up to $500 to install charging stations and a starter kit that includes a sign and information on where to install the charging station.

By adding charging stations, businesses can:

  • Open their doors to more people;
  • Have a reputation of being socially responsible businesses;
  • Market the business in a unique way;
  • Be part of an inclusive movement in the City of Sarnia; and
  • Take advantage of further marketing opportunities.

The cost to businesses is said to be 17 to 25 cents per charge.

To apply for the grant, businesses can CLICK HERE to download and complete the online application or can contact Mosely at (519) 332-0330 ext. 3307 or by email:

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Ticket sales are going strong with less than 30 days remaining until the Chamber’s 2017 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala lights up downtown Sarnia and the Imperial Theatre on June 16.

You won’t want to miss out as the date gets closer, says Sharon Sielky, who chairs the volunteer committee organizing the event.

“We know that it’s often said that our community tends to be ‘last minute’ when it comes to securing tickets,” notes Sielky. “But maximizing their choice of seats is also important to some people, so now’s the time to go online at or call the box office at (519) 344-7469.”

The June 16 event promises to be, as it is every year, one of the greatest events on the Chamber calendar, an opportunity to celebrate outstanding individuals and businesses who have been nominated and cheer them on.

Thanks go out to all the 2017 OBAA supporters, including lead event sponsor Libro Credit Union.






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Marc Alton, co-owner of Alton Farms Estate Winery, with Claudio Montanaro, who is working at the winery, located on Aberarder Line since 2005.

It was either good planning or a lucky break for chamber attendees at Wednesday’s Business After 5 event hosted by  Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, with the “Beach Party” theme merging nicely with one of the warmest days (so far) of the year.

Attendees loved  the unique flip flop networking game and the food was abundant and super.  The event also included  wines by Alton Farms Estate Winery, a proud Chamber member and nominee in the Agri-Business category in this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, to be held Friday, June 16 at the Imperial Theatre.  Pictures of the event are available here.

Thanks to all who made this event a tremendous success!


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Changes could discourage investment, eliminate jobs and diminish economic opportunities in Ontario, especially among small business owners

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne recommending that an economic analysis take place before changes are made to Ontario’s Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), including the introduction of a $15 minimum wage. The letter is cautioning that these reforms may have unintended consequences impacting job creation and competitiveness, as well discouraging investment in the province.

The potential reforms are coming at a time when costs for consumers and the cost of doing business is high and putting Ontario at a competitive disadvantage. Ontario has experienced slower growth in GDP and job creation than in the past, and drastic reforms to labour and employment run the risk of causing serious damage to the future prosperity of the province.

“These sweeping changes have the potential to slow job creation and impact the health of our local economy,” said Shirley de Silva, President and CEO, Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “The Government of Ontario should fully understand and make public how the proposed changes would impact investment, jobs and economic growth.”

The letter reminds the Premier that Ontario’s employer community is doing its part to create better jobs and working conditions in the province. Budget 2017 points out that 98% of all new jobs created since the recession have been full time, and 78% have been above average wage for their respective industries.

Statistics Canada data shows that part-time work has risen 22 percent since 2003, down from the 36 percent increase in the previous 12-year period. Studies also show that 76 percent of part-time workers voluntarily choose part-time work to better accommodate schooling or personal life.

“We are urging Premier Wynne to complete an economic impact analysis of the proposed reforms to limit potential consequences that could seriously jeopardize our future growth,” said Richard Koroscil, Interim-President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We support reform where and when it is needed, but we caution against change for change’s sake.”

The letter notes that the goals of economic growth and improved employee rights are not mutually exclusive. The OCC believes that what supports the competitiveness of Ontario’s economy can also help enhance quality of work. Increased education and enforcement may assist with compliance to Government regulations and can improve worker environments. Regulatory reform that raises costs for business, only to reduce the ability of business to invest in and grow the labour force is counterproductive.

Read the OCC’s letter to Premier Wynne.

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A team of staff and amazing volunteers from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is ready to roll out the welcome carpet for delegates to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce 2017 Annual General Meeting, which begins this Thursday, May 4 and runs through Saturday, May 6.

In addition to various presentations and discussions taking up much of Friday at the Holiday Inn in Point Edward, delegates are being treated to social events and dinners arranged by the local chamber to highlight what Sarnia-Lambton has to offer, including a First Friday experience and the Beer Show.

Saturday features the Ontario Policy Advocacy Report, a debate of 37 policy resolutions put forward by the individual chambers, and a discussion with Patrick Brown, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

Sarnia Lambton Chamber members are encouraged to come out to the Beer Show at First Friday in downtown Sarnia if they would like to meet the delegates.  Members are also encouraged to attend a Meet and Greet with Andrea Horwath.


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Ontario’s political parties will be making a point to reach out to the business community as the next general election, scheduled for no later than June 7, 2018, approaches.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, in its role as the definitive voice of business in the area, is committed to helping facilitate that dialogue, says President & CEO Shirley de Silva.

“We understand how important it is to begin the dialogue on issues of importance to business and we’ll be doing everything possible to help the various political parties engage with our community,” she said.

One example of that dialogue beginning, but by no means the only one, is a website being hosted by the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, which serves as the Opposition at Queen’s Park.

The site——is seeking input from business as well as other constituencies.

“We do expect other opportunities to engage with political parties and candidates will come our way and we’ll pass on those to our members and do our part to facilitate those conversations,” said de Silva.

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