• Advocacy

    As the only advocate representing small, medium and large businesses across all sectors in Sarnia-Lambton at all levels of government, we keep our “ear to the ground” so we can advocate for public policies that will benefit our members, the economy and the community.

    Our views are sought after and respected by government, business leaders and the media thanks to our well-researched reports, analyses, position papers and policy resolutions that reflect a broad business perspective. View some of our advocacy letters and reports.

    Determining our issues

    Through a committee structure that encourages discussion and lively debate, the Chamber develops positions on a variety of issues that are important to the vitality of our members and the community as a whole. View the key issues the Chamber is working on.

    Once a policy position is drafted and endorsed by the Board of Directors, an advocacy strategy is developed to inform, educate and gain support of government officials, Chamber members and the general public. Advocacy efforts typically include meetings with elected officials, letter writing, roundtable discussions, collaboration with partners and submitting policy resolutions to the Ontario and Canadian chambers of commerce. View our upcoming advocacy events.

    Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC)

    The business advocate representing local chambers of commerce and boards of trade in over 135 communities across Ontario. The OCC provides exclusive support, networking opportunities and policy insight to its members. Each spring, the Ontario chamber network meets to debate policy resolutions brought forward by the local chambers. This process determines the issues that the OCC will advocate for over the following three years.

    View the OCC’s Policy Books

    Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC)

    The business advocate representing over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Canada. Similar to the OCC, the CCC provides exclusive support, networking opportunities and policy insight to its members. Each fall, the Canadian chamber network meets to debate policy resolutions brought forward by the local chambers. This process determines the issues that the CCC will advocate for over the following three years.

    View the CCC’s Policy Books

  • Advocacy Wins

     

    The Chamber spoke and policy makers responded:

    Local government

    • The City of Sarnia updated its strategic plan after consulting the Chamber.
    • The City of Sarnia established a bylaw governing the use of shipping containers as storage buildings after consulting the Chamber.
    • Local municipalities agreed to continue supporting the proposed “Oversized Load Corridor” project and the City became project manager.

     

    Government of Ontario

    • A pilot project was created to help students prepare for the future economy. The mandatory Grade 10 career studies course will include financial literacy, entrepreneurship skills, digital literacy, and career/life planning.
    • Residential and small business electricity bills were reduced by 25%.
    • The Industrial Conservation Initiative was expanded so more medium and large businesses are eligible for lower electricity rates.
    • The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) was cancelled.
    • The Minister of Finance acknowledged Lambton County’s unique energy history in his 2016 provincial budget speech.
    • More clarity on how cap and trade proceeds will be spent was provided in the Climate Change Action Plan.
    • The emergency services arbitration process was amended to speed up negotiations.
    • Bioindustrial Innovation Canada’s COMMSCI project received $3 million in provincial funding.

     

    Government of Canada

    • The Canada Revenue Agency simplified tax reporting for foreign properties valued under $250,000.
    • Bioindustrial Innovation Canada’s COMMSCI project received $12 million in federal funding. and $3 million in provincial funding.
  • Key Issues

     

    Energy

    • Called on the Minister of Energy to:
    • Cooperate with the energy industry to stabilize prices
    • Increase transparency regarding electricity rates, negotiated contracts and cap and trade fees
    • Provide answers on how the Climate Change Action Plan will impact energy affordability and reliability
    • Resume and broaden the Industrial Electricity Incentive so industries expanding in Ontario can manage their electricity costs
    • Commission an independent economic impact analysis of the Long Term Energy Plan
    • Continue investing in energy storage and biofuel technologies
    • Studied how Ontario’s electricity rates for large, medium and small businesses compare to other jurisdictions
    • Discussed energy issues with representatives of the Independent Electricity System Operator

     

    Climate Change

    • Called on Ontario’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Standing Committee on General Government to:
      • Postpone Cap and Trade before it starts
      • Clarify the long-term goals for climate change initiatives so businesses can prepare
      • Recognize the leadership role Sarnia-Lambton can play in a low-carbon economy while working directly with Ontario’s petrochemical industry and other heavy emitters in establishing shared carbon reduction goals and strategies.
      • Mitigate the likely side effects of “carbon leakage”
      • Ensure the climate change action plan keeps pace with advancements in technology
      • Ensure changes don’t increase energy prices
      • Provide a detailed breakdown of the Climate Change Action Plan’s budget
    • Advised the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources on a number of actions that should be taken before implementing a national carbon tax

     

    Small Business

    • Continued calling on the federal government to increase the GST/HST filing threshold for small businesses.
    • Co-released the Ontario Chamber’s “Scaling Up” report which recommended increasing access to international talent, identifying financing gaps and strategically investing in SMEs so they can grow.
    • Hosted a small business roundtable with Ontario Chamber President & CEO to discuss challenges of attracting talent and the costs of doing business
    • Met with small business members in Petrolia, Corunna, Sarnia, Alvinston and Watford to ask what government policies are hurting business.

     

    Red Tape and Regulations

    • Collected members’ feedback on the City of Sarnia’s shipping containers by-law which led to the adoption of a more business-friendly version
    • Collaborated with the Chartered Professional Accountants on a policy to reduce red tape affecting personal income tax filing which resulted in simplified foreign asset reporting
    • Hosted a presentation on changes to the Estate Administration Tax

     

    Skills and Workforce Development

    • Acquired the Ontario Chamber network’s support for our policy calling on the Province to require more financial literacy courses in school

     

    Infrastructure

    • Called on Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure to provide equitable and reliable infrastructure funding for small, rural communities
    • Discussed local infrastructure priorities with municipal government staff
    • Met with project leaders of the SWIFT broadband project
    • Called for broadband to be recognized as an infrastructure investment without dissuading private sector investment, partner with all levels of government on funding and benchmark Ontario’s internet speed and access.

     

    Local Economy

    • Consulted members and gave input on the City of Sarnia’s strategic plan update
    • Worked with the City of Sarnia to broaden their benchmarking study
    • Provided input on the Western Ontario Warden Caucus’s Economic Action Plan

     

    Budgets

    • Presented recommendations to Sarnia City Council on their draft 2017 budget
    • Met with MPP Taras Natyshak to discuss the Ontario budget
    • Helped shape the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 provincial pre-budget commentary

    Innovation

    • Advocated for national and provincial bioeconomy strategies in order to be world leaders in this emerging sector
    • Called on the Province to encourage commercialization and the building of demonstration plants
    • Called on the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to support the LAMP21 project.

     

    Transportation

    • Garnered political support for the Oversized Load Corridor project
    • Called for improvements to passenger rail service in Canada
    • Surveyed members and provided input on heavy truck restrictions in the Town of Petrolia
    • Commended the Ministry of Transportation for its prompt reconstruction of the Highway 402 overpass at Indian Road.

     

    Agribusiness

    • Participated on the Ontario Chamber’s Agri-food Taskforce and co-released the report “Fertile Ground: Growing the Competiveness of Ontario’s Agri-food Sector.” The report recommended reducing inflexible regulations, improving risk management tools, investing in infrastructure, skills and innovation and helping the industry meet the Agri-food challenge.
    • Discussed farm property assessments during Breakfast with MPAC

     

    Retirement Savings

    • Called on the Minister of Finance (ORPP) to halt implementation of the ORPP and ensure that future CPP enhancement policies have minimal negative impact on business and the economy and require compulsory financial literacy education in high school.

     

    Elections

    • Discussed ranked ballot elections and the election of wardens
  • Talk to Us

    If there is a public policy issue that is limiting your business from succeeding, whether it’s government red tape, rising costs or trade barriers, email us at

    speakup@sarnialambtonchamber.com.

    To help us identify, research and develop policies or to become a business advocate, contact Monica Shepley, Manager of Advocacy and Policy Development at mshepley@slchamber.ca