The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) entered into force July 1. The USMCA preserves and deepens the trade ties between our three countries, providing much needed assurance for the North American Economy, which represents 27% of global GDP and 16% of global trade. 

“USMCA modernizes our North American trading framework for the 21st century. It incorporates best-in-class provisions in areas such as digital trade, financial services, and telecommunications. Through innovative new chapters, it facilitates the integration of small and medium enterprises into international trade, promotes competition, and contributes to the fight against corruption” says the joint statement between the three countries Chamber CEOs.

The agreement cements Mexico, The United States, and Canada as members of the same team and enhances North America’s standing as the premier global destination for investment. It is crucial that governments and business communities in the three countries work together to reach its full potential for productivity, development, and growth.

For the full statement, click here.

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The Government of Canada extended the Emergency Order requirements related to mandatory isolation and quarantine until August 31, 2020 for travellers entering Canada. Anyone entering Canada will continue to isolate for 14 days if they have COVID-19, or have reasonable grounds to suspect that they have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or quarantine for 14 days if they do not have signs and symptoms of COVID-19. 

The Order also clarifies when travellers are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering. This includes a new requirement for individuals who are otherwise exempt from quarantine to wear a non-medical mask or face covering when in public settings if physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

Border measures prohibiting foreign nationals from entering Canada from any country other than the United States are subject to certain limited expectations- which are generally not applicable for optional or discretionary purposes, such as tourism, recreation, and entertainment have also been extended until July 31, 2020. 

For the full statement by the Government of Canada, click here.

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With news that some businesses can reopen in Ontario, many employers, employees, and business owners have many questions. This article by Dutton Law aims to address them:

Which Businesses Can Reopen?

Click here for a complete list of businesses that can open back up in Ontario.

How Do I Reopen a Business in Ontario?

Ontario employers can reopen by following these steps:

  • Check to see if your business is a kind of workplace that is able to reopen
  • Check the government’s safety guideline measures for your specific workplace
  • Determine if your company can implement the safety guideline measures
  • Implement the safety guideline measures
  • Give notice to your employees to return
  • Conduct workplace health and safety training to ensure the safety guideline measures are followed

How Do I Recall An Employee in Ontario?

Once your business has determined it is permitted to reopen and has considered the government’s safety guidelines, then it can begin to recall an employee. Meet with your Joint Health and Safety Committee to plan your reopening.

Send your employees an email or call them asking them to return on a specific date. An employee should be provided with some advanced notice of a return to work to allow him or her to readjust and plan. A few days should be reasonable. 

An employer must put each employee back in the same position they had before they left work if it still exists, or to a comparable position if it does not. 

Next, an employer should conduct safety training with staff prior to opening up to the public to discuss the guidelines & measures the employer & employee will follow.

Can an Employee Refuse to Come Back to Work When a Business Opens Back Up?

Yes, an employee can refuse to come back to work. However, if an employee refuses to come back to work for a reason unrelated to health and safety fears, then, in most circumstances, he or she has essentially resigned and the employer should proceed accordingly.

For the full article with frequently asked questions and answers, click here.

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Five Quick Tips for Conducting Video Interviews

Submitted by Bruce Hein, Owner at Express Employment Professionals

During the past several months, people who never used video conferencing software before the COVID-19 pandemic have become believers in the potential that technology has for how they conduct business in today’s extremely connected world.

Interviews, for example, are an ideal fit for video calls and became more common during quarantine when shelter-in-place restrictions prevented in-person meetings. But of course, as with any tech, many people experience a bit of a learning curve in the beginning.

There’s plenty of common ground between in-person and video interviews and most hiring managers are well versed in the basics, like having a prepared list of questions or turning off email notifications and text messages. However, in regard to video interviews especially, there are a few tips to consider you may not have thought about.

Give candidates plenty of time to prepare
Because of the immediacy of technology like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, it’s easy to start up an impromptu video call with coworkers and colleagues any time you need to have a discussion. However, once you decide you’d like to interview a potential job candidate, set a specific date that allows them time to download any necessary technology, test their device, or make arrangements to do the interview from somewhere with more reliable internet. 

Have a plan B
Of course, no matter how much prep time there is, no technology is perfect and the potential for a breakdown is always there. Therefore, be sure to have a backup plan in case you get disconnected. Whether it’s a predetermined time to try again later or a phone number where you can be reached to continue the interview, let the candidate know how they can get back in touch if something happens.

Set a firm agenda
Video interviews, in general, can feel less formal than an in-person interview. It’s the nature of the medium, but don’t be tempted to just put it together on the fly. Set an agenda for the interview and what the candidate can expect. The agenda can be simple, such as a bulleted list that includes topics like Introductions, Review Job Description, Company Overview, etc. You could even email the agenda to the candidate a few days in advance so you’ll both be on the same page and have a “roadmap” for navigating the video interview.

Remove distractions
Sure, distractions like email and texts apply just as much to video interviews as they do to in-person interviews, but when you’re not in the office, there’s likely a whole new set of distractions to contend with you may not think about until it happens. One of the biggest is technology issues. If you’re having to pause the interview to adjust settings, figure out how to mute and unmute, etc., it can not only be distracting, but also frustrating for the interviewee who came prepared to put their best foot forward. 

Additionally, surprise visits from kids and pets are always a possibility when interviewing via video from home, so be sure to find a place where you can lock yourself away from interruptions as best as possible.

Show some grace
Face-to-face interviews are stressful enough for candidates. Throw in the disadvantage of not physically being in the same room as the interviewer where it’s easier to read body language and facial expressions, and it becomes a much more awkward interaction—especially if the candidate has little experience with video conferencing. So, it’s important to take that into consideration, help them feel comfortable, and let them know that it’s just as awkward for you and to relax.

About Express Employment Professionals
At Express Employment Professionals, we’re in the business of people. From job seekers to client companies, Express helps people thrive and businesses grow. Our international network of franchises offers localized staffing solutions to the communities they serve, employing 552,000 people across North America in 2019. For more information, visit our website.

The Sarnia Express office is located at 347 Christina Street North and serves the Sarnia-Lambton area. Local businesses and applicants are encouraged to visit www.expresspros.com/sarniaon or call (519) 336-7962.

 

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Thursday, July 9th, the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce will join dignitaries MP Gladu, MPP Bailey, Warden Weber, Mayor Loosely, and CAO Charlebois in an official ribbon cutting for Kingswell Glen Golf Club.

We invite you to join us in congratulating Jenna and Joe Gorzeman on their new endeavor and reopening of the Kingswell Glen Golf Club.

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The City of Sarnia released a report advising the next steps regarding immediate opportunities to increase flexibility for existing business owners by advancing temporary amendments to the city’s zoning and refreshment vehicles section of the Business Licensing By-law for a two-year period.

The recommendation includes:

  • Allowing existing restaurant business owners to offer outdoor food sales opportunities on their property or on the city right-of-way within close proximity to their restaurant for a two-year pilot period.
  • Permit a temporary exemption to required parking and landscape standards for commercially zoned property in order to allow business owners to expand their presence on-site to drive sales opportunities in a safe and socially distanced manner, for a two-year pilot period.
  • Direct staff to waive fees associated with the use of on-street parking spaces for food service opportunities for interested food service vendors looking to expand their sales opportunities within close proximity of their existing establishment.

The amendments proposed will provide maximum flexibility for business owners and allow the creation of outdoor shopping and dining spaces by property owners.

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The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership is hosting a webinar with Canadian Mortgage and Housing on the Commercial Rent Relief Program. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, June 30th from 11:00-12:00 pm and will be open to the first 100 individuals who register.

The session is open to Landlords and Tenants to review that application and approval process. 

Attendees are asked to submit their questions in advance so they may be answered during the presentation. Please email these questions to Karen Richards at karen@sarnialambton.on.ca.

To register, click here.

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The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) latest policy brief, Small Business, Big Impact: How SMEs are Pivoting During COVID-19, highlights a range of Ontario’s SMEs that have successfully adapted during this difficult time.

The OCC’s latest policy brief highlights 28 SMEs from the Chamber’s network that have adapted their operations and displayed tremendous leadership. Some quickly retooled their operations to manufacture essential products while others modified existing products or services to continue serving clients and remain resilient.

“The SMEs profiled in this brief are true difference makers. Many of these companies recognized the shifting business environment and new economic trends, such as digital delivery, and took immediate steps to fill a gap, leverage technology, or develop critical partnerships during this challenging period. Together, they demonstrate the nimbleness, ingenuity, and generosity of Ontario’s SMEs,” explains report author, Catrina Kronfli, Senior Policy Analyst. 

To access the policy brief or read the full story, click here.

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