Recently, Shell employees and summer students coordinated with Lambton Elderly Outreach to visit three local Sarnia-Lambton nursing homes to offer positive encouragement and spread some cheer as part of their “Fuelling Kindness” initiative.

Fuelling Kindness is a Shell program that encourages small acts of kindness knowing these can have a positive impact on health, relationships, and our communities as a whole. 

To read more about this Shell Initiative, click here.

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As businesses and organizations across the country adjust to new realities during the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadians are facing additional stress. It’s important during these times to take small breaks during the day to support mental health and well-being. 

The Canadian Business Resilience network has partnered with Canada Life to send 270 “Break Boxes” to businesses and their employees across Canada. Break Boxes are practical resource kits that were designed to help support positive mental health at work and at home through a variety of individual and team – based activities. 

What goes in a Break Box?

  • A checklist on how to support teammates and employees as they transition back to work. 
  • Team activities that help teams talk openly about stress and identity 
  • A virtual scavenger hunt for a light- hearted break. 
  • A plan for resilience that teaches readers how to build resilience and bounce back from stressful situations 
  • Colouring pages 
  • Kudos cards, to recognize a job well done 
  • Fill in the blank sticky notes to help spread positive messages and ideas for managing stress 
  • A stress ball that can also act as a smartphone holder 
  • A workplace strategies for mental health poster to display at home or at work 
  • Workplace strategies for mental health inspirational postcards to collect, display, and share with colleagues and friends. 

If you’d like to receive a Break Box, please fill out this form to be considered.

To learn more about the Break Box initiative, click here.

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The Government of Ontario is making $8 million available to support small business and registered charities who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) provides a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small businesses and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments.  

CEAP-SB, a Government of Ontario program with rules designed by the OEB, is designed to help small businesses and registered charities that are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. CEAP-SB provides a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments.

As of August 31, 2020, small businesses and registered charities can apply for funding through their electricity and natural gas utilities or unit sub-meter providers (USMPs).  Please note that CEAP-SB funding is limited, and utilities and USMPs will process applications in the order in which they are received. Submitting an application for CEAP-SB does not guarantee funding.

Full program details including eligibility criteria, on-bill credit amounts, and application processes are available at oeb.ca/CEAP. 

To apply for CEAP funding, customers should contact their energy provider. Electricity and natural gas utilities and unit sub-meter providers (USMPs) will begin accepting applications for CEAP-SB on August 31, 2020, delivering the program in accordance with rules laid out by the OEB. CEAP-SB funding is limited, with utilities and USMPs expected to process applications in the order in which they are received. Please note, submitting an application does not guarantee funding.  

For more information, including eligibility requirements and on-bill credit amounts, visit oeb.ca/ceap.

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Since January, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread worldwide at an unprecedented rate. This has led to countries taking drastic measures to slow the circulation of the virus. These measures have continued to impact the global economy. 

The second quarter can be summed up by the following trends:

  • Net income before taxes in the non-financial sector falls
  • Retail trade sectors hit hard by COVID-19
  • Manufacturing net income drops, as plants limit capacity or cease operations entirely
  • Banking sector’s net income before taxes impacted by COVID-19 

Click here to read more details about the second quarter, as well as to look closer at the impact of COVID-19 on the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food service industries.

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On Friday, September 4 at 7:30 pm the Imperial Theatre is back with their socially distanced “Show in a Tiny Bubble”. 

Since performances cannot yet occur safely in the auditorium, the staff at the Imperial Theatre have devised a clever system to showcase some of Sarnia’s favourite performers. The performers will sing solo from behind plexiglass in a safe “show bubble”.

Please do your part to keep yourself and each other safe and comfortable while enjoying some long-awaited live entertainment featuring Broadway Hits, Disney Sing-Alongs, and more! There will be limited spaced out chairs made available, though you are welcome to bring your own seating as well. The Imperial Theatre will have popcorn, slushies, and pop for sale out front, served by masked staff and volunteers.

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The Federal Government has announced its intention to make changes to simplify EI applications, extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) an additional four weeks, and introduce three new benefit programs to take the place of CERB once it expires: the Canada Recovery Benefit, The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.  

Access to EI benefits is normally based on the number of insurable hours an individual has worked in the year prior to their application, or since their last claim. This is known as their qualifying period. However, the Government of Canada recognizes that the pandemic has prevented many Canadians from accumulating the number of insurable hours that is normally required, and is taking action to address this. To help individuals qualify with a minimum of 120 hours of work, EI claimants will receive a one-time insurable hours credit of:

  • 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits (job loss) 
  • 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care, or family caregiver) 

Those who do not qualify for EI at this time, can look into one of the following three benefit programs:

Canada Recovery Benefit

If passed, this program will be effective from September 27, 2020 for one year and will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks to workers not eligible for EI, mainly self-employed and those working in the gig-economy. 

Workers will apply after every two-week period for which they are seeking income support and attest that they continue to meet the requirements. In order to continue to be eligible for the benefit the claimant will need to look for and accept work when it is reasonable to do so. The benefit is taxable. 

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

If passed, this program will provide $500 per week, for up to two weeks, effective September 27, 2020 for one year, for workers unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. 

Workers will not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Workers will not be able to claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Workers will need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit. 

Workers will apply after the one week period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. The benefit will be taxable. 

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

If passed, the benefit will be effective from September 27, 2020 for one year and provide $500/week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible Canadians. 

The closure of schools and other daycare and day program facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has meant that many Canadians have been unable to work because they need to provide care to children or support to other dependents who have had to stay home. While it is anticipated that facilities will gradually re-open as the economy restarts, the Government of Canada recognizes that access may vary over time and across communities. 

Workers will apply after the period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. Two members residing in the same household cannot be in receipt of the benefit for the same period. The benefit is taxable. 

To read all the details about the changes to CERB and EI, click here.

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The return to physical workspaces poses a number of challenges for small and medium sized businesses. The Municipality of Toronto has created this digital toolkit for businesses so they can safely welcome their employees back to their workspace.

Make a Plan 

This can start by forming a planning and response team that will help you navigate the return to your workspace. Some roles you might consider include: site manager, access control lead, virus prevention lead, sanitation/disinfection lead, PPE and supplies lead, communication lead, training lead.

The Government of Ontario has made available workplace safety plan guidelines that are sector-specific. You can find these readily available online & can base your workplaces plan around these examples. 

Get Your Workspace Ready 

As you prepare to welcome back employees, you will need to make adjustments related to increased cleaning and disinfecting, providing personal protective equipment and more.

Many workplaces may need to implement the use of retrofits, including partitions, removing furniture, additional signage or single points of entry/exit. 

Ensure your team knows what PPE is required and where they can find it. Reviewing when it is appropriate to wear PPE and take it off, how often to clean it, and what is expected of them sets everyone up for success. A strict disinfecting schedule should  be a key component of getting the workplace ready. 

Prepare Your Employees 

Communication is key in this aspect. Inform your employees of their roles and responsibilities in this environment. Review physical distancing and safety guidelines both on a governmental level and on a workplace level. This helps everyone understand what is expected of them. 

Another way you can prepare your employees is by planning a phased return to work. This could mean cancelling in-person meetings/events, introducing work shifts for shared spaces, or closing shared workspaces depending on what is right for your team. 

Plan to Interact with Customers 

Once your workplace and team is prepared, your final step is figuring out how to safely interact with customers. One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating and/or installing signage for visitors to easily understand and follow. Managing in person transactions and reducing touch points is another way to keep interactions safe.

For access to the full digital toolkit, click here.

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St. Clair Township will not be implementing a mandatory mask bylaw. 

Council was divided on the topic during its virtual meeting on Monday, August 17. Council voted 4-3 against legislating the wearing of face masks in indoor public spaces. 

Of those who opposed; Mayor Arnold said he believed the county is going to deal with the same problem in September & will wait until then to take legislative action. Councillor Atkins believed wearing a mask provides a false sense of security that can cause community members to undermine physical distancing.

Of those in favour; Councillor Kingston argued a large number of people she has spoken to were hoping to put a mask bylaw in place. Councillor Brown added he would rather err on the side of caution, especially given the global concerns about a second wave looming. 

To read the full article, click here.

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Bring your family this Saturday, August 22nd from 4:00-7:00 pm, the Sarnia Street Cruisers will line the streets for the Weekend Walkabout with special guest, television star The Famous “Rotator” from Preferred Towing, as featured on Heavy Rescue: 401! 

Please ensure that you optimize the safety protocols by adhering to the 2m physical distancing criteria, and wearing your personal mask or face covering as it is required to enter any of the wonderful businesses located downtown.

The Weekend Walkabout is a pedestrian friendly zone on Christina Street from the George to Davis Street. The street closure begins at 4:00 PM on Friday until 8:00 PM on Sunday.

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You may have heard of the “Canada United” initiative, aiming to encourage Canadians to shop & dine locally. On August 28th – 30th, Canada United is hoping Canadians across the country show up for their local businesses to kick start the economy. 

In collaboration with our Weekend Walkabout street closure, we are looking for local businesses who want to set up a table on Christina street showcasing their products or services. The time slots available are listed below. Send us an email (linked below) if you are interested in participating!

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is proud to support the Canada United movement and is encouraging businesses to show their support by sporting a Canada United decal or sticker (available at any RBC branch). Social media promotional materials can also be found by clicking here

Additionally, RBC is contributing 5 cents to the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund every time you watch this video.

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