Category Advocacy

The Federal Government appears to be moving in the right direction on a number of tax proposals that were announced earlier this year, including an announced lowering of the small business tax as well as hints of more changes to come.

Monday’s announcement is definitely a positive one and our Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce members should feel proud that they’ve played a significant role, along with others throughout the country, in expressing their concerns about what the Federal Government had planned.  We remain cautiously optimistic that the Government will follow up on a Ministerial call for further input from Canadian businesses.

By providing a voice for businesses in communities across Canada,  local Chambers help prevent devastating damage.

More news on the Government’s revised tax plans is expected to be released throughout the week. The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will provide updates as they become available.




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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce was well-represented nationally at the Annual General Meeting and Convention of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, held last month in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The opportunity to have Sarnia-Lambton’s business community represented nationally is an important one and attending on behalf of the local membership were Shirley de Silva, President and

CEO; Michael John Kooy, Board Chair; and Monica Shepley, Manager of Advocacy and Policy Development.

We were able to engage in policy discussions with our colleagues from other areas of the country and also bring forward our ideas for change to the national stage.

One of the policy resolutions that delegates approved called for a renewed strategy related to infrastructure, linking future grants to productivity performance, economic growth and job creation.

This  resolution, co-sponsored by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce ,  also calls on the Federal Government to deliver an increased share of

existing funding through formula-based programs like the Gas Tax Fund.




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The Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CCEA), an independent research consulting and data technology firm, has released a report that outlines the economic impacts the proposed

provincial legislation known as Bill 148 is likely to have if approved by the Ontario government.

The CCEA estimates that some 185,000 jobs will be put at risk over the next two years as a direct result of the proposed legislation. About 400,000 small business owners are exposed to 46% of

the increased costs from the Act.

At least 80% of small business employers will be affected by the changes outlined in the Act, which will lead to higher costs.

The CCEA has determined that there is a $23 billion cost challenge awaiting Ontario businesses over the next two years if the legislation is passed.

As many as 1.8 million Ontario residents are expected to be negatively affected directly or through a family member small business owner or by a job loss. The CCEA estimates the additional

increase in prices will amount to an annual $3.4 billion.


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Today the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce called on the federal government to hold back on its proposed tax changes and launch meaningful consultations with the business community. Read our letter.

Today marks the end of the consultation period for the federal government’s tax changes, but our fight will not end.

If you haven’t already done so, send a message to government:

  • Sign this petition.
  • Write to your Member of Parliament or send a post card
  • Use social media to follow and share @ProtectGrowth. Use the hashtags #ProtectGrowth and #unfairtaxchanges
  • Shoot and send a 30-60 video about how the changes will impact your business. Share via social media and copy @sarnialambtonchamber (Facebook) and @SarLamChamber (Twitter)

Read “Your Guide to Corporate Tax Changes” and The Canadian Chamber’s detailed policy analysis

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Several business owners from a wide range of sectors, including retail, farming, and medicine, gathered on Tuesday for a Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce-hosted event that highlighted the impact proposed changes by the Federal Government would have, not only on their economic livelihood but the entire nation.

The picture being painted is not a pretty one.

Debra Taylor, a CPA who outlined the various changes that were put forward on July 18, said she objects to comments made by Finance Minister Bill Morneau that the proposed moves are intended to close loopholes.

“The reason we have corporations set up by people in business is to limit personal liability,” she told the gathering of business people at Manley’s Basics in Point Edward.

“If these changes are implemented, the incentive to take risk—which is at the heart of our economy—will be gone.”

Taylor said the government, if it truly wanted to be fair in making any changes, would have allowed a reasonable period of time for the transition and grandfathered existing businesses. “The 75 day consultation period is too short,” said Taylor. “There should be an extended period of consultation and feedback.”

But Taylor also made it clear that adding complexity to the tax burden is not the best way forward, pointing to a current tax code book that is substantially bigger than ever before.

“It’s not sustainable.”

But people like Carolyn Luciani, who with her sister Lisa Hewton owns Manley’s, says she is making far less than what the Federal Government suggests and that others might believe. “Financially, I’d be better off with a government job that offered vacations and benefits. None of that is the case when you own your own business.”

And she too objects to characterizations that the government is concerned about loopholes.

“These are not loopholes,” said Luciani. “They are reasonable provisions that offer stability and predictability for our business.”

Karen Sanders, who along with her husband Steve own Wild Hog Farms in Watford, said the proposed moves by the government will decimate the family farm.

Referring to two of her children who have expressed an intent to continue the operation, which employs seven people outside the family, she said her children would have to pay triple the tax than if their parents sold the operation to an unrelated business.

Al Langford, also a farmer who works other jobs outside his family’s cash crop operation and who is president of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, said there is a real risk that his generation will be the last to farm the 750 acres that have been in the family for 107 years.

“We’re struggling,” he said.

The changes being proposed will have a huge impact on his community and he and others intend to spread the word about those impacts.

They plan to gather on Tuesday, September 26 at the Brooke-Alvinston Arena for a meeting to draw attention to the issues being raised.

“We’re on the edge,” said Langford. “We can’t allow it to happen. We have to stand up to it. Our whole lives are in this.”

Dr. Sean Peterson is a family doctor who also practices emergency medicine and runs a clinical research company in Sarnia. He’s also, with a partner, expanding his office building to create a team-based practice that would attract new doctors who want to work in that atmosphere.

But, Peterson, who is also a director of the Ontario Medical Association, said he’s concerned that the changes being proposed will make it harder to attract doctors who see the U.S. as being a potentially better place to practice.

And Peterson objects strongly to comments by Prime Minister Trudeau that a doctor pays less tax than a nurse in the same room.

“I can tell you, the only time that would ever happen is if the doctor is on maternity leave and isn’t receiving employment insurance payments,” he said.

According to Chamber research, two-thirds of Canadian small business owners make less than $73,000 a year, and half of those make less than $33,000 a year.

The Chamber of Commerce has a detailed guide to the proposed corporate tax changes on its website. The document can be seen HERE.

A website sponsored by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce ( outlines some of the issues. It states:

“Canadian small businesses represent almost 97% of all businesses in the country and employ nearly 70% of all Canadians working in the private sector. Encouraging the growth of small business is critical to creating jobs and supporting the economy.

“The Government says it’s all about “fairness,” but there are good reasons why owners are taxed differently than employees. Because unlike an employee, a business owner doesn’t get a pension or health benefits or vacation pay. She invested her own money to get the business started. Or, she pledged her personal assets (house, car) as collateral for a loan. She has employees who depend on her. And, if nobody wants her goods or services next month, she does not earn a penny.”

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Rural residents, farmers, and businesses on the outskirts of Sarnia won’t be forced to pay for bus services, following calls by the Chamber to tax only those who have the opportunity to use bus services.

At Monday’s meeting, Council considered removing the current “transit levy” and requiring all Sarnia tax payers to share in the cost of conventional bus services. This would have included taxpayers who do not have the service and cannot access it near their homes or places of business.

After consulting members, the Chamber wrote to Council expressing their concerns, “until conventional service is made available everywhere, it is only a public good for those who have the opportunity to access it.”

The Chamber’s input was part of a wider public consultation held over the summer. The City had issued a survey to which 400 people responded, with 63% objecting to the changes being proposed.

In the end, Council decided to maintain status quo and open up the discussion to other options.

Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva said instances like this, where the Chamber facilitates discussions in response to proposed legislation that could impact business, is part of what the organization does on a regular basis.

“Our members are the lifeblood of the community, providing the essential tax base,” she said. “We believe by acting collectively, we can get our message to those who write the laws so that they are aware of how our members would be affected.  In this case, they have listened.”

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The federal government has announced plans to change corporate tax rates that could have big impacts on small business owners and their families.

The Sarnia-Lambton Chamber supports measures that prevent tax evasion, but these changes go beyond that, and will punish many legitimate businesses. The government should put these changes on hold to avoid hurting thousands of small businesses across the country and to have a broader, thoughtful discussion regarding the measures needed to stop those who use their businesses to avoid paying taxes.

To find out more about the proposed changes, read Your Guide to Corporate Tax Changes and the article “Concern mounts over Morneau’s proposed tax changes affecting small businesses” which appeared in the Globe and Mail and discusses the latest news around the government’s taxation plans.

Now is the time to make your voice heard, which can be done by:

The government is accepting comments until October 2, 2017

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While discussions around changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement are in their early stages, Canadian businesses are becoming more vocal around a potential change to the minimum level by which goods are taxed when they enter the country, either through e-commerce or cross-border shopping.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is among the organizations concerned.

The issue—which is referred to as the De Minimis Threshold—is potentially under pressure as American retailers in particular want to make it easier to do business across our border. The problem for Canadian retailers is that it puts them at an unfair advantage, which is something that no one in Canada wants.

A more complete explanation of the issue can be found HERE, outlining the position of Chambers in Sarnia-Lambton, Greater Niagara, and Windsor-Essex.

An article in the Windsor Star, which can be seen HERE, points to a “real world” example of the impact a change to the De Minimis rate could have on the local economy.

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As a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber, you have the opportunity to help decide how your local chamber and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce advocate for business. There are two opportunities:



If you are a small business member and have some ideas of how the Chamber can better advocate for small businesses like yours, let us know by emailing Monica Shepley, the Chamber’s manager of advocacy and policy development at


Review any of the 76 policy resolutions that will be debated by chambers from across Canada at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce annual meeting being held on September 23-25 in Fredericton, N.B. The complete list of proposed resolutions can be downloaded by clicking this link: 2017ProposedPolicyResolutions. We want to know, should we support the policy, oppose it or make amendments?

There are three ways you can make sure your views are included in the debate:

  1. Email
  2. Post your feedback in the comments section below this article.
  3. Attend a review session to discuss the policies in person. To do so, contact Monica Shepley at

The opportunity to touch base with members is always important, particularly where it comes to advocacy and having a keen understanding of how the numerous issues affect small business will help us be better equipped to have key discussions with government representatives at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

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