Monthly Archives November 2018

Businesses in Sarnia Lambton are being negatively impacted by the lack of a Federal Government strategy around broadband improvements, says the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

That message comes in the wake of an Auditor General of Canada report that asserts the Government of Canada has not effectively monitored and created a long-term strategy to address broadband internet gaps for businesses and Canadians in rural and remote areas.

“It is critical that the Government address their plan to support rural communities so that we’re not disconnected from the global economy and rest of Canada,” said Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO. “Affordable high-speed broadband is holding back farmers, manufacturers, innovators and educators in our area.”

The CRTC, in its Telecommunications and Monitoring Report, 2017, estimates that only 39% of rural businesses and communities had access to high speed (50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload), while 13% were lacking access to minimum download speeds over 5 Mbps.

While recent initiatives like the $500 million investment into the “Connect to Innovate” program have created partnerships and outcomes, the Auditor General concluded that the CRTC did not ultimately implement the program criteria in a way that ensured the maximum expansion in rural and remote communities.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is working with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce network to advocate for several recommendations that will address connectivity through a strategy that supports private internet service providers, supplement infrastructure gaps and encourage new technologies like 5G mobile networks.

The Chamber has also called on the Provincial Government to develop a provincial long-term broadband strategy that includes funding for connectivity to the most rural and remote areas where it is currently cost-prohibitive while setting speed and reliability standards.

Recommendations of the Canadian Chamber network: 

1)    Develop a long-term strategy that identifies required resources and timelines for high-speed internet access in all underserviced communities in Canada, focusing on the deployment of wired broadband in consideration with other promising technologies.

2)    Accelerate the deployment of 5G technology by removing barriers to 3.5GHz spectrum allocation and access to 5G compatible devices by incenting users to upgrade legacy mobile and IoT devices; i.e. through an initiative similar to the Energy Star Program.

3)    Ensure that any strategies should rely on market forces to the maximum extent possible, and that government should provide subsidies and investments only when market forces alone are unlikely to achieve economic and social objectives.

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In what will be the first in a series of articles designed to “spread the word” about what the Chamber is working on to help build key business sectors, this week we are focusing on one project: enhancing Sarnia-Lambton’s international gateway and trade sector.

The Chamber aims to increase trade and develop the transportation, distribution and warehousing sectors by designating Sarnia-Lambton as a “Foreign Trade Zone Point,” much like in other border communities such as Windsor-Essex and Niagara. The FTZ status would effectively result in a one-window service helping businesses access tariff and tax exemptions on goods that are imported, stored, manufactured, assembled and then exported again.

“Such materials and goods can generally be stored, processed or assembled in the FTZ for re-export (in which case taxes and duties generally would not apply) or for entry into the domestic market (in which case taxes and duties would be deferred until the time of entry),” according to the Finance Department’s website.

A Trade Corridor Task Force was formed to help the Chamber apply for the FTZ designation and look at other ways to develop these sectors. Other initiatives they are working on include designing educational and training programs and taking steps to attract a distribution centre. Ultimately, the Chamber would like to see the development of a multi-modal port in Sarnia-Lambton to facilitate global trade.

Sarnia-Lambton is already a significant gateway to trade due to its location on NAFTA Superhighway and being the second busiest border crossing for commercial traffic in North America.

Look for more details in future issues of the newsletter on how the Chamber is working to improve the local business climate.

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Photo courtesy Sarnia Journal.

December’s Business After 5 event—as is customary—will take place a week earlier than usual, with this popular networking event taking place next Wednesday, December 12 at Jackpot City, located at 825 Upper Canada Dr in Sarnia.

Chamber members and guests can look forward to the excitement that comes with such a venue—entry to age 19 and over.

Members of the Business After 5 committee are well on their way to making sure this season’s “special” event delivers the kind of memories we can all savour throughout the rest of the holiday period.

Join us, won’t you? You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

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Thanks to organizers with JA (formerly Junior Achievement), a  recent “World of Choices” event held November 21 at the Dante Club delivered an important message of opportunity to local female students in grades 10 and 11.

The event, which had representation from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce (President and CEO Shirley de Silva along with board member Laura Hanlon of MPW Chartered Professional Accountants—both pictured) as mentors at the event, was an inspiring moment for those attending.

As organizers explain on the “World of Choices” website: “It’s basically like speed dating for careers!”

The day also included opportunities to network, light breakfast, lunch and a keynote speaker.

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This week we’re looking ahead to one of the happiest . . . some would call it JOYOUS seasons of the year.

With our neighbours across the Blue Water Bridge enjoying their Thanksgiving festivities, we’re entering . . .  by tradition . . .  the point where shoppers begin scrambling for the best deals available, and children start making sure their parents have their list of what they expect Santa will be bringing on Christmas Day.

But this is also a season when we can focus on what really matters . . . and we’re not talking about gifts or even your favourite holiday foods.

It’s the building of relationships, the renewing of friendships, and seeking out opportunities to show kindness and generosity that count the most.

Those who have come to know and respect the Chamber for its role in advancing good in Sarnia-Lambton already understand what I’m talking about.

Generosity and kindness will ultimately create the kind of sustained value we can all benefit from, not just in this season but all year round.

Let us get an early start on the season—demonstrating kindness and generosity beginning today.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Trade Corridor Task Force is working on an initiative to grow Sarnia-Lambton’s trade, distribution & warehousing sectors, and to promote this area as an international gateway and trade corridor that contributes significantly to global trade and to Canada’s economy.

Our first goal is to become a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Point to make it easier for businesses to access duties and tax relief programs. Qualifying businesses are those that import goods for use in manufacturing, processing or storage and then export again.

We want to know if such a service would benefit your company and others in Sarnia-Lambton. We invite you to answer these quick questions to help us with our research. For a brief description of FTZ programs, click here.

If you have any problems accessing or completing this survey, please contact Monica Shepley at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce at mshepley@slchamber.ca or (519) 336-2400.

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Last week the Ontario government presented the Fall Economic Statement, 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. The Chamber applauds the government for the steps it is taking to build a more prosperous Ontario with a strong focus on fiscal accountability and cutting cumulative red tape.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber Network have long called on the government to reform Ontario’s tax system, reduce red tape, and restore fiscal sustainability to the Ontario taxpayer.

We agree that the Government of Ontario will not proceed with the prior government’s initiative that would have taxed the so-called “passive” income for thousands of businesses across the province. This would have greatly increased taxes for thousands of employers in Ontario.

We also applaud the government for increasing the amount of payroll that is exempt from the Employer Health Tax. This is a reasonable step in the right direction. Our members are also supportive of some of the government’s other key priorities, such as their commitment to:

  • Cutting red tape by 25 percent by 2022;
  • Implementing tax reforms for small businesses;
  • Expanding broadband to rural and underserved communities across Ontario;
  • Reviewing electricity costs for industrial users; and
  • Investing in both the Ring of Fire and transportation infrastructure in Northern Ontario.

Combined, these are fundamental steps towards a more competitive and prosperous economy. Ontario is strongest when industry and government work together and we look forward to working with the government in support of businesses of all sizes, in every corner of the province.

For more information, read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Rapid Policy Update:

https://occ.ca/rapidpolicy/2018-fall-economic-statement/

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Wellings of Corunna, one of the area’s most innovative and welcoming facilities for a 55-plus crowd who value an extremely comfortable lifestyle, is host to this month’s Business After 5 Chamber event.

As you’ll soon discover, it’s a short drive to Wellings of Corunna, located at 180 Bunker Ave.

This Business After 5, which takes place on Wednesday, November 21, is taking on a casino theme, one more reason to be excited.

Even better, as those who look forward to the monthly Business After 5, the connections made are often lasting.

We’ll see you there!

Here’s a little more to discover about the Wellings of Corunna eperience:

 

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Every week, nearly 500,000 Canadians miss work due to mental health problems or illnesses, costing the economy in excess of $51-billion annually. In order to remain competitive, businesses need to focus inwards and begin investing in and improving how they navigate mental health in their workplace.

With most adults spending more of their waking hours at work and with one in five Canadians experiencing a mental health problem or illness, addressing the issue of mental health at work is vitally important for all people in Canada— especially employers. Mentally healthy workforces perform better and create opportunities that allow for inclusive growth for all sections of society.

The steps to building a more mentally healthy workplace are simple—small changes lead to a larger impact over time. The first step is to decimate the stigma surrounding mental health problems and illnesses. Businesses can create an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all staff are recognized and valued.

It is not only socially responsible for businesses to prioritize a mentally healthy workplace but also fiscally responsible, all while promoting employee retention. As the leading cause of short and long-term disability in Canada, mental health takes a substantial toll on Canadian workplaces. The longer an employee is absent from work, the higher chance there is for an unsuccessful integration back into the workplace.

Businesses must prioritize adopting best practices for workplace mental health in order to mitigate the risk of losing their employees, a low employee turnover heightens a business’ financial performance over time.

Additionally, a workplace that champions good mental health makes employees more productive and assists in the recruitment of
new workers.

Promoting workplace mental health is also important for risk management. Psychological health and safety in the workplace is a factor that many employers can be held legally responsible for. Implementing mental health policies, in addition to assessing, controlling and/or eliminating any mental health risks in the workplace, would reduce the possibility of businesses being liable to claims. Mentally healthy workplaces can be achieved through fostering a positive culture, promoting employee mental well-being, preventing harm to employee mental health and supporting people with mental health problems and illnesses.

Our economy cannot afford to leave anyone behind, which is why as the voice of Canadian business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is leading the way in ensuring their workplace allows all individuals to benefit from a healthy and inclusive environment. The Chamber is moving from goal to action by implementing the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

This ‘5 Minutes for Business’ article was produced by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member.

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A concert planned for Sunday, December 2 is intended to bring together the culture of the ancient Celts alongside Canada’s indigenous peoples in their common reverence for nature and parity of esteem.

Organizer Dave Clark, who is working with the W.B. Yeats Foundation on this production, has put together”Bridges of the Spirit,” a Canadian Celtic Concert that will include poetry, song, music and dance as a way to bring both cultures together.

Taking place at the Holiday Inn in Point Edward (from 2 p.m.), the concert will feature numerous Celtic and Indigenous performers, including Rant Maggie Rant, The Living Celtic Souls, Smoke Signals, Jeff Black, Red “Dog” George, Alyson Fischer, Kim Carr, Seamus “Wolf Son,” and Dancers from the Sarnia School of Irish Dance.

There will be entertainers from First Nations communities and those of Scottish, Uilleann & Highland Pipers and others at the event.

Tickets are priced at $25 and are available through Eventbrite.

 

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