Please join us for two exciting events this week:

Business After 5 is this Wednesday, September 30th and is sponsored by ‘Seedz’. A locally owned and developed ‘app’ that is all about supporting local businesses. 

Click here to register.

Our first webinar in our October series is Thursday, October 1st and is featuring Marika Sylvain Groendyk, owner of Bluepoint Public Relations. 

Click here to register.

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Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Sarnia-Lambton held its first ever “Big Drop” on the 9th hole of Sarnia’s Greystone Golf Course this past Thursday. 

Executive Director Mike Hurry said they sold all 2,500 tickets for the event. They were inspired by the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in St. Thomas as they have presented similar event for many years. 

“25 hundred balls at five dollars apiece, and we had about 35 hundred dollars in sponsorships, so 16 thousand dollars before expenses. It went over so well in a situation where we weren’t able to be face-to-face selling tickets and we were doing it all online. It was I think, incredible for our first event to sell-out,” he said.

It is expected that they will have another “Big Drop” event in 2021. 

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The 2020 United Way of Sarnia-Lambton campaign has now reached the 22 percent level of the $1,900,000 Needs Target.

“Our direct mail campaign is resulting in dozens of donors each day,” said campaign chair Vicky Ducharme. “We have just completed mailing 4,000 letters to retirees, small businesses, farms, and professionals in Sarnia and throughout Lambton County. We are pleased with the response so far.”

“We are trying a number of new things this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, not the least of which is the focus to more online giving,” Ducharme said. “In our experience locally, we have found paper pledge cards are one of the most effective ways to raise funds in employee settings, because of the constant reminder of seeing the physical card on your desk or in your mail slot. Getting an email pledge card tends to be forgotten or missed.”

Ducharme added that those who would like to support the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton, or learn more about the United Way and its 36 funded programs and services, can visit www.theunitedway.on.ca.

Donors can also call the United Way at (519) 336 5452 or stop by the office at 1362 Lambton Mall Rd.

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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada’s leading business association, released the following statement in response to last week’s Speech from the Throne. President and CEO Perrin Beatty said:

“With COVID starting a second wave and our economy facing a bleak fall, what Canada urgently needs is a recovery plan that both protects the health of every Canadian and creates the conditions for business to reopen and for Canadians to resume more of their normal lives.

Among the positive measures in the Throne Speech were:

  • EI Reform and additional measures focused on reskilling displaced workers to equip them for jobs in sectors of importance to Canada’s growth. 
  • National leadership on childcare funding to enable working women to more fully participate in the workforce. 
  • The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program until next summer, helping Canadians remain connected to their employers as we recover together. 
  • Investments to enable a faster rollout of 5 G networks, including in rural and remote areas, to improve services to Canadians and boost productivity. 
  • A promise to break down interprovincial trade barriers. 
  • A focused campaign on recouping the remaining 1 million jobs lost in the pandemic 
  • A promise to support Canada’s hardest hit sectors such as travel, tourism, hospitality and food services 
  • The establishment of a task force for women in the workforce and support for women entrepreneurship. 

“Today’s speech was a beginning, but much more needs to be done to help the more than one million Canadians who lost their jobs get safely back to work. The most direct and efficient route to do so is to enable the only group that can create jobs: Canadian businesses. Managing the pandemic and safely reopening our economy as soon as possible remains our most urgent need.”

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“Elderly Man Shot Dead by Police after Refusing to Wear a Mask in Grocery Store,” read the shocking July 15th headline of an incident in Minden, Ontario. Although an extreme example of how situations can get out of hand, this incident was a wake-up call for retailers about the risk of COVID-related aggression in their workplaces.

“Some people are not at their finest right now, and employee abuse at the hands of customers is on the rise in retail/service workplaces,” notes WSPS Mental Health Consultant Kristy Cork.

Customers may be experiencing feelings of anxiety, frustration and fear that have been building for weeks as they walk into your workplace. Under these circumstances, even a neutral comment — “Would you like a face mask?” or “Please follow the directional markings” — could trigger an aggressive reaction.

“Your workplace and your employees need to be prepared to deal with COVD-19 related aggression or violence before something happens,” says Kristy.

How? Update your workplace violence policy and risk assessment, develop new action steps, and train frontline supervisors and employees so they have the skills and knowledge to de-escalate a situation or get help. The new guidance document — Violence and COVID-19: What Employers in the Retail/Service Sector Need to Know — will get you started.

“It’s time for service and retail employers to move workplace violence to the top of their agenda,” says Kristy. Here are four reasons why.

  1. It’s the law. The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to protect employees from violence and harassment in the workplace, and update policies and programs as new hazards arise. COVID-19 presents new risks of violence as workers are being asked to ensure customers comply with store requirements. “Often these workers have no experience dealing with violence and harassment,” says Kristy.
  2. Customer aggression is increasing in the service sector. After months of COVID-19 restrictions, many people are anxious, uncertain, frustrated, and more likely to take it out on customer-facing workers. Others may think COVID-19 is a hoax, and refuse to follow public health requirements, such as wearing masks in indoor public spaces. Any conflict with your customer could lead to a potentially violent behaviour. It may already be happening – are your employees trained to report it?
  3. COVID-19 precautions won’t go away soon. If you are positioning people at the door, don’t think this is for a month, and then it’s back to “normal.” It could go on for another 8 to 12 months. So invest in that role and take safety precautions.
  4. It doesn’t have to be costly. There are many downloadable COVID-19 resources available for businesses of all sizes.

What’s in the guide?

Violence and COVID-19: What Employers in the Retail/Service Sector Need to Know takes you step by step through employers’ legal duties related to COVID-19 violence, including factors to consider as you assess risks, develop policies and programs, and provide information and instructions to workers.

The guide also offers prevention and mitigation strategies for dealing with new risks of violence presented by COVID-19. Among the strategies:

  • setting up workers for success when interacting with potentially abusive customers, including training on de-escalation and crisis intervention
  • creating protocols on how to respond to calls for assistance
  • protecting employees who work in isolation
  • dealing with domestic violence that might impact the workplace

This article was prepared by Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS), helping Ontario businesses improve health and safety for over 100 years. For more COVID-19 related information, visit our COVID-19 hub https://covid19.wsps.ca/ or contact WSPS at customercare@wsps.ca.

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The Ontario government is building on the largest provincial testing initiative in Canada by providing $1.07 billion to expand COVID-19 testing, case and contact management. The government is also immediately investing $30 million to prevent and manage outbreaks in priority sectors, including the province’s long-term care homes, retirement homes and schools. 

A crucial part of Ontario’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan is encouraging people to continue to adhere to foundational public health measures and monitor public health trends carefully. That’s why the province is investing $1.07 billion to enhance and expand efforts to test, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19 

Building on the current efforts put in place, Ontario will strengthen public health measures and continue to expand testing, case and contact management through the following:

  • More testing locations: Ontario will expand testing locations to reduce testing wait times. This will include adding more testing locations such as primary care offices, at-home testing for certain home and community care clients, and participating pharmacies. 
  • More testing options: Providing less invasive collection methods such as throat and nasal swabbing & saliva collection will now be used in addition to nasopharyngeal swabs. 
  • More testing capacity: Hiring more lab staff, professional staff and improving data quality through digitizing requisition forms and other automated features. 
  • More case and contact managers: An additional 500 Statistics Canada employees are being onboarded this month to assist with contact management and Ontario is hiring an additional 500 contact tracers. 
  • Better health behaviour information: Ontario will conduct health behaviour surveillance to track adherence to public health measures and to help understand how to better communicate the importance of following public health measures.
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Join us on Saturday, September 26 from for the following fun activities:

Vendor Market – 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM 

ISOBar: Through the Looking Glass – 2:00 to 3:00 PM

Show and Shine Car Show – 12:00 to 4:00 PM

On Sunday, be sure to come back and visit the Tourism Sarnia-Lambton Support Local Cruiser to pick up your $10 voucher for use at participating retail and restaurant locations.

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The Imperial Theatre needs your help! After having to cancel 6 months worth of shows and no clear sign as to when they can resume, the Imperial Theatre is looking for donations to hold them over until shows can resume. To donate, follow the link: https://secure1.tixhub.com/imperial-sarnia/online/b_don.asp

The following is a letter from Executive Director Brian Austin Jr. with an update on the Theatre.

“Hi Everyone, 

We should be raising the curtain on our season opener this week, but we still can’t open… most theatres can’t.

It’s over 6 months since our first cancelled event. We have been developing plans that change constantly because of new information or new rules. We remain optimistic but it is abundantly clear that our industry has been hit incredibly hard and we don’t know how long this will last… 

We have refunded $87,466 since March, with an additional $251,000 in deferred revenue for shows that we had to postpone. That’s over $338,000 in lost revenue. 

We want to return. We want to entertain you, to have our walls filled with creativity and laughter and cheering and celebration again. Theatres are not meant to be empty. The closures affect not only Theatre Sarnia and the Imperial Theatre, but the groups who rent our venue as well. The current 50-person limit for gatherings makes it financially infeasible for any of those groups to resume programming. 

If you have already donated, we can’t thank you enough or begin to describe the positive impact you have made to our organization! We want to ensure that we are here on the other side of this, so we are asking you to consider donating once again! Any amount would be greatly appreciated. All donations are eligible for a tax receipt and will allow us to continue to weather the storm.

For more information contact Executive Director Brian Austin Jr. at Baustin@imperialtheatre.net

 

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Partners of the Our Restaurants Campaign are sharing their perspectives and insights on the issues facing the industry. Alexandra Cioppa provided the following story about “Tre Mari Italian Bakery” a Toronto bakery she frequented growing up. 

She writes: “Prior to COVID-19, Tre Mari’s team consisted of 30 – 35 employees (which included bakers, front of house, pastry chefs, and cake decorators). The Tre Mari space featured a small indoor sit down area in addition to a small outdoor patio, a hot food counter, a bakery counter, and a grocery section with an antipasto bar, freshly baked breads, and Italian pantry staples. 

When lockdown orders came down in Ontario, Tre Mari shut their downs. However, all was not lost. Receiving messages from regulars inquiring about delivery pushed them to start taking orders. 

Three days after closing up shop, Tre Mari began to take orders online, using Instagram to highlight their offerings and spread awareness. Through Instagram, the team was able to quickly and easily communicate with consumers and answer any questions. They launched free home delivery in the local area (executed in house by the core team) and within three days, were able to deliver a customer’s order. Tre Mari brought their signature cannolis, Italian buns, and prepared foods directly to consumers’ doors. 

Spending decades building this relationship with the neighbourhood meant that throughout quarantine, Tre Mari found incredible and immense support from the community which helped carry them through this uncertain and precarious time. The foodservice industry has been devastated by COVID-19, and while affected by the pandemic, Tre Mari has been able to grow and evolve – something that many larger operations have been unable to do.

Read the full story here.

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