Category Publications

Copies of a Chamber-produced gift book—”Discoveries that Matter: Simply Sensational”—have arrived at our offices and are ready to be picked up by the sponsors of this high-quality showcase of our area.

With that in mind, limited copies of the book are also available for sale, making a great Christmas gift.

Want a glimpse of the gift book? See below for a “teaser”—a PDF of Col. Chris Hadfield’s foreword to “Discoveries that Matter: Simply Sensational.”

Chris Hadfield Foreword

“We’ve had very positive comments from people who have seen ‘Discoveries that Matter,'” notes Shirley de Silva, president and CEO.

Copies of the book can be purchased and picked up at the Chamber offices, 556 Christina St N, Sarnia.

They are priced at $50 plus 5% book tax for one copy, $40 plus 5% book tax each for two copies, and $30 each plus 5% book tax for three copies. Purchases at this discounted rate must be made at the same time and through the Chamber offices only.

 

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Marijuana is set to be legalized for recreational use as of October 17, 2018. For many employers still struggling with how to accommodate employees who have been prescribed cannabis for medicinal purposes, this will create new challenges and questions. How do you define impairment and fitness for work? What types of tasks are safety-sensitive? These are key concerns that leadership needs to manage before the legislation passes.

Here is a sampling of insights from the CEO Health + Safety Leadership Network panel discussion, captured in the Marijuana in the Workplace: Conversations About the Impact on Employers and Employees, a white paper published by WSPS.

Participants agreed that understanding all of the nuances of this issue will take time and experience.

What employers need to know:

  • Prior to legalization, marijuana is the most prevalently used illicit drug in Canada.
  • Consuming recreational marijuana at work is and will remain illegal.
  • Marijuana use, particularly THC products (the principal psychoactive constituent), can cause residual impairment for 24 to 48 hours.
  • The legislation may affect the entire organization, not just safety-sensitive positions.

Basic principles when dealing with marijuana in the workplace

  • Safety should always come first.
  • Protecting employees’ rights is important, but employers have rights too.

How to move your organization forward

  • Review highlights of the federal cannabis legislation and Ontario’s new workplace rules.
  • Update your hazard assessments to include the potential for impairment.
  • Create a policy and program on the use of any substance that can cause impairment. Write the policy in a way that leaves room for dialogue. Include definitions of key terms, such as “impairment” and “fitness to work.”
  • Consider the entire organization’s needs, not just safety-sensitive positions.
  • Consult with stakeholders and experts.
  • Follow what leading organizations are doing, such as the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). In the white paper, you’ll find an interview with Megan MacRae, the TTC’s executive director, Human Resources, on the organization’s drug and alcohol testing program.

How WSPS can help

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the provincial body representing all chamber members across the province, has written to the Premier about challenges it sees in the arbitration system that covers wages and benefits for emergency services such as police and fire throughout the province.

The letter points out that the cost of services have increased at over three times the rate of inflation annually since 2002, making those increases unsustainable.

The Ontario Chamber calls for the Premier to take immediate action. “Our principal concern is that the current system does not adequately consider the capacity of municipalities to pay,” said the letter, signed by Allan O’Dette, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce CEO Shirley de Silva said the issue of arbitration affects municipalities’ ability to pay for other essentials, like roads and bridges and to invest in economic development initiatives that will drive economic growth.

“We know from ongoing discussions with our members that the ability of a municipality to fund these essential services needs to be factored into any kind of fair and equitable system that is in place to deal with arbitration issues,” she said. “On that basis, we are encouraging the province to address this issue as soon as possible.”

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A survey released today reveals local business may be confident when it comes to their future but more remain concerned about key economic issues, notably proposed government actions around Canada Pension Plan and cap and trade initiatives.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, which co-released the inaugural Ontario Economic Report, highlighted concerns over the economic climate in the province.

The survey, produced by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, includes references to several sets of data, including a Business Prosperity Index developed by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis and an Economic Outlook for 2017 prepared by Central 1 Credit Union.

The survey projects a positive net migration of 1,300 for an area that includes Sarnia-Lambton and Windsor. The report cites an improved unemployment rate of 6.3 percent, down from 6.6 percent and a rise in housing prices, with the $183,000 median cost still the lowest in Ontario.

But local businesses are said to be weary of investment, citing a combination of high risk and low confidence in the provincial economy, said Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s CEO.

“Many of our members, particularly the small businesses, were shown to have the least amount of confidence in the economic outlook,” said de Silva. “From a practical standpoint, even though businesses have more financial resources available to them than they have in the last 15 years, they are less willing to invest in production, which would serve to generate wealth and jobs.”

The Chamber’s survey shows a relatively weak business climate, notably the result of a perceived weakness in exporting opportunities and a lack of government infrastructure, which at only 3 percent of GDP is lagging behind the recommended 4.5-5 percent of GDP, according to the Chamber report.

The report’s companion Business Prosperity Index also shows a drop in the generation of wealth generated from the production of goods or services.

“What that tells is that Ontario businesses are less likely to earn income from actual business activity today than they have in the past,” said the Chamber’s de Silva.

Ontario wide, the research shows that Ontario’s economic climate is posing challenges to the businesses represented by members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, including those in Sarnia-Lambton.

“Investment is being held back because of a high perception of risk,” said Ontario Chamber of Commerce CEO Allan O’Dette. “We need immediate action in order for our province to continue to grow and prosper.”

O’Dette said Ontario’s business prosperity is increasingly dependent on non-production, financial activities, with a 12 percent drop in production activities having taken place since the Great Recession.

Locally, the Chamber, on behalf of its membership, has continued to voice caution around the effect of regulatory burden, high input costs and government policies, said de Silva.

“The findings in this report reinforce this,” she said.

The Chamber, both locally and at the provincial level, will continue to prioritize workforce development, infrastructure, energy and health care as issues of key importance.

“In particular, our members are concerned about access to affordable energy, and improvement in infrastructure through funding of local, jobs-generating projects,” she added.

Click here to see report

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The Chamber is urging Lambton’s two Members of Parliament, along with the Federal Minister of Finance to steer clear of any plans for taxing health and dental benefit packages provided by employers. This comes on the heels of a report in the National Post on December 2, 2016 that the Department of Finance is reviewing the tax exemption.

In this letter to MP Marilyn Gladu of Sarnia-Lambton and MP Bev Shipley of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, with a copy to the Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva and Mark Lumley, chair of the Board of Directors, voice concern on behalf of the Chamber membership.

Taxing health care benefits would result in fewer businesses, particularly smaller ones, that offer these benefits and it could cost employees hundreds or thousands of dollars each year.  It also means that many Canadians may be at risk of losing access to vision care, prescription drug, dental care and other preventative services if their employer can’t afford to keep them insured.

Find out more about this issue and how you can take action by visiting the website www.donttaxmyhealthbenefits.ca.

The letter is another example of the Chamber, on behalf of members, taking a stand on issues of importance to the local business community.

“We do this on behalf of our members on a consistent basis,” said de Silva. “Our role as the Voice of Business in our community is acknowledged by elected government officials and regulators at every level and it’s one that we take very seriously.”

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) also commented today on the Long Term Energy Plan and called on the Minister of Energy to reduce electricity costs by prioritizing affordability and competitiveness as well as transparency and flexibility.  The OCC recommends moving away from a central procurement model towards a competitive capacity market and leveraging expiring contracts to pursue more cost-effective measures.

“As the provincial government seeks to find solutions to the province’s energy challenges, Ontario must strive to balance objectives regarding climate change, renewable resources and maintaining a diverse supply mix without forfeiting the competitiveness and transparency of the capacity market system,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “This will result in increased accountability and confidence in the energy market for Ontario businesses.”

Read the OCC’s submission here

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