Category Advocacy

Ontario’s labour and employment laws are changing. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has taken a leadership position among Ontario’s industry and sector associations to bring together a broad coalition called the Keep Ontario Working (KOW) group.

They want to know how Bill 148 will affect you. Share your story with them and contact your MPP directly.

The KOW group will be releasing a full economic impact analysis of Bill 148 and report later this summer. Learn more about how you can Keep Ontario Working and ensure that government is improving legislation to support workers’ rights, create jobs and grow the economy.

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Last year, at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s AGM in Regina, chambers from across the country voted to pass a resolution submitted by Sarnia-Lambton that called on the federal government to support the development of a High Frequency Rail (HFR) project by VIA Rail. The resolution has been slowly gaining traction.

VIA Rail’s proposal, which is gaining support from Chambers and municipalities, is based on improving service in Canada’s busiest transportation corridor (Southwestern Ontario to Quebec) by running more traditional trains that can run up to 160 km/hr, more frequently. It would better serve smaller communities like Sarnia-Lambton by adding more comfortable and more frequent connections throughout the region.

The mayors of two Quebec municipalities—Drummondville and Trois-Rivieres—along with their respective Chambers, have announced their joint support for the HFR. Following that the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus, which represents 13 counties that cover an area from Cobourg to the Quebec border, advocating for 750,000 residents in Eastern Ontario, has also come out in favour of the HFR proposal. Since then, municipal councils in Eastern Ontario like Peterborough and Leeds and Grenville have endorsed the idea.

“This news is encouraging for the future of transportation infrastructure in Canada,” said Shirley de Silva, President and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s also an example of how issues of local importance to the business community can be successfully leveraged through our membership in the greater Chamber community. That’s exactly what happened through our proposal last September and it’s one that is gaining support throughout the region, of which we are a part.”

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce developed the resolution in support of local efforts by RAIL—Rail Advocacy in Lambton.




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The Government of Canada is preparing a new Food Policy for Canada that addresses issues related to the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food.

Business owners and members of the public are being encouraged to help shape the policy by responding to a national survey that focuses on the following themes:

—Increasing access to affordable food;
—Improving health and food safety;
—Conserving our soil, water and air; and
—Growing more high-quality food.

The online survey, which can be accessed HERE, will be available until Thursday, August 31.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is preparing to respond to two City of Sarnia proposals, a proposed Tree By-law and the Transit Levy, although businesses still have time to give input themselves.

The responses come after an invitation from the City to weigh-in and will highlight the concerns raised by businesses during discussions with the Chamber and via the email The Chamber’s comments are likely to be made public within the coming week, although opportunities remain for businesses to add their voice to the Chamber’s response document.

Members can find out more about both issues by reading the Your Guide to Sarnia’s Tree By-Law and Your Guide to Sarnia’s Transit Levy By-Law. Comments can be sent directly to the City via these email addresses: and

The Chamber continues to review proposed legislation and regulations at every level of government, including the municipalities in Sarnia and Lambton County, as well as at the provincial and federal levels of government.

Through its membership in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the local Chamber has further opportunities available to incorporate ideas and data on how businesses around the province and the country are impacted by proposed legislation.

“It’s these important linkages that further add value to our local members,” said Shirley de Silva, CEO and president of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “While there are certainly local issues that are key to us, through our growing relationships with the OCC and the CCC, we become even stronger.”



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Tuesday, July 18, 2017—The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has taken a “too much, too fast” stance on the Ontario Government’s Bill 148  in a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Economic Affairs as part of consultations on the bill.

The proposed legislation—formally known as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs At, 2017—will “have profound negative consequences for Ontario, including job losses, inflation, and business closures,” said the letter, which was sent to the Standing Committee following a consultative session held in London, the location nearest to Sarnia-Lambton, on Monday, July 17.

Chamber President and CEO, Shirley de Silva, and Manager of Advocacy, Monica Shepley attended a Bill 148 hearing in London on July 17, 2017. With them are MPP for Sarnia-Lambton, Bob Bailey, who’s also a member of the Standing Committee of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mayor of Brooke-Alvinston Don McGugan who presented at the hearing, and his wife, Anne McGugan.

The local Chamber will host its own Town Hall Meeting to discuss Bill 148 on Tuesday, July 25 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion, 286 Front Street N., Sarnia.

The Town Hall Meeting will feature Susan Houston, a labour lawyer and partner with Matthew Dinsdale Clark LLP in Sarnia; Jason McMichael, president of the Sarnia and District Labour Council; and Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Government Relations with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

It is free to attend, open to the public, and coffee will be provided. Those wishing to attend are asked to pre-register online at

In particular, the Chamber cites a 23 per cent increase in the provincial minimum wage, with a total of 32 per cent increase in 18 months.

“By comparison, Seattle has allowed 4 years for a 36 per cent wage increase,” the Chamber letter says. “How are small businesses expected to offset such a rapid increase in costs?”

Chamber officials say many businesses have said they will be forced to increase prices and cut costs, including jobs.

“Some fear the reforms will force them to close their businesses entirely if they can’t adjust quickly enough,” said the letter.

The letter points out that other changes proposed, including equal pay for temporary and part time workers and scheduling, “will carry significant new costs for employers.”

The Chamber is urging the Government to commission an independent economic impact analysis before third reading of the bill, referencing the fact that the “Keep Ontario Working” coalition of business sector associations is commissioning its own analysis.

“We strongly urge you to review (that analysis) when it is completed in August,” the Chamber letter said.

The letter in full, including comments from local business owners, can be seen HERE.

For more details, read “Your Guide to Bill 148

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Sarnia City Council decided on June 19, 2017 to extend consultations over the summer on two important issues: a proposal to impose the transit levy on properties that don’t have access to conventional bus services, and a proposed bylaw that would regulate trees located on private properties.

Residents wanting to comment on the transit levy now have until August 4 to complete the survey: Comments can also be shared by emailing or calling 519-332-0330. A staff report and final recommendations will be presented to Council on September 11.

Residents wanting to comment on the tree bylaw now have until October 1 to complete the survey: . Comments can be emailed to Council will review the draft bylaw at their meeting on October 23.

If you would like to share your questions or concerns with the Chamber, contact us at or 519-336-2400.

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This fall, the Ontario government will vote on Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs), which proposes a $15 minimum wage and a number of other measures impacting vacation time, scheduling, temp agency employees and unionization.

If you have any questions or comments about this legislation, please contact the Chamber at

You also have the opportunity to voice your opinion directly to the government. You can do so by registering to participate in a public hearing or by writing to the committee that is reviewing Bill 148.

Public Hearings:

Friday, July 14 at St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, International Room, 201 Riverside Drive West, Windsor, Ontario –Agenda

Monday, July 17 at Delta London Armouries, 325 Dundas St., Gunnery Ballroom, London, ON – Agenda

The deadline to register to speak has passed, but the public is welcome to attend and observe.

Written submissions:

Letters can be sent to Clerk of the Committee at, or Room 1405, Whitney Block, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON  M7A 1A2 no later than 5:30 P.M on Friday, July 21.

More details can be found here.

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