This is a new feature that will appear from time to time in the Chamber newsletter. Members are invited to contribute brief items at no cost.

The Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board is hosting a FREE (but registration required) workshop on “Maximizing Your Workforce by Attracting & Retaining Older Workers.” The event is being held on Wednesday, November 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Tourism Sarnia-Lambton building on Venetian Boulevard. Registrants will discover the benefits of attracting and retaining older workers and strategies for success in doing so. Register by emailing Julie Allen—julie.allen@slwdb.org—or by calling (519) 332-0000.

 

 

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The OCC’s Fall Policy Survey is underway. The initiative, which is an integral part of advocacy work that is done both provincially and locally as the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce incorporates findings from across the province into its strategy to advocate on behalf of our members.

The findings of the survey, which wraps up on Friday, October 26, will be published in the Ontario Chamber’s Economic Report.

This is your opportunity to have your voice heard on issues that matter most.

The impact of government policy on your business and the overall state of the Ontario economy.

The survey is securely hosted by Navigator, an independent consulting firm. All responses will be kept strictly confidential.

By taking a few moments to complete the short survey, you will be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

CLICK HERE to begin the survey.

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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, of which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member, recently held a panel discussion with some of Canada’s leading cannabis companies on the economic development opportunities and policy issues in front of the sector.

A recording of the webinar can be reviewed by clicking HERE.

The following is a “5 Minutes for Business” article that covers the legal cannabis issue in Canada.

As of October 17, Canadian adults will be able to legally purchase and consume cannabis for recreational purposes; a year and a half after the federal government introduced its legislation to do so. It will mark the beginning of a fascinating battle between a new regulated industry and the existing illegal market that Canadians are currently turning to for recreational cannabis use.

This illegal market is the reason why the government made Canada the first large developed country to legalize recreational cannabis, seeking to displace illicit sales that profit organized crime to the tune of billions of dollars per year. How much? Statistics Canada reported that in 2015, Canada’s illegal cannabis market was worth as much as $6.2 billion, nearly as much as Canada’s wine market.

So what are the steps to legalizing a multi-billion dollar illegal market? Over the last 18 months, federal legislators and civil servants have been establishing a national framework for regulating access to cannabis, which includes rules for cultivation, production, possession and marketing. Meanwhile, provinces and territories have been busy setting the rules for distribution and retail sales. This has been accompanied by a frenzy of private sector activity to supply the legal market with licensed producers, retailers, ancillary businesses and others investing billions of dollars in this new sector.

Some of the factors that will influence how effective Canada’s legal cannabis market is at reducing illegal sales include safety, quality, access, supply and branding. Like all markets, one of the biggest factors will be price. As the head of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, Anne McLellan, told Members of Parliament studying the Cannabis Act, “Price point here is going to be key in terms of what you see in the illicit market and how effective the legal market is at moving people over.”

In late 2017, the federal government reached a cannabis tax revenue sharing agreement with the provinces and territories. On top of sales taxes, the agreement included a cannabis excise or “sin” tax of 10% of the retail price or $1 per gram—whichever is higher. The 10% tax is expected to raise $300 million annually for the provinces/territories and $100 million annually for the federal government. The agreement projected that including the excise tax, legal recreational cannabis will be priced around $10 a gram.

Only a few months later, Statistics Canada released a survey that found Canadians are currently paying an average of less than $7 a gram for cannabis. One would expect that this data would be a strong signal to policymakers not to propose additional taxes on legal cannabis, which would widen the gulf between legal and illegal market prices. One would be wrong.

Fast forward to this July, when Health Canada proposed four “cost recovery fees”—otherwise known as user fees—on the industry to recoup the costs the government will incur by regulating the sector. User fees are typically associated with a specific service from the federal government, such is the case with the first three of the proposed fees: an application screening fee, an import/export permit fee and a security screening fee. However, it is the fourth fee that caught the industry’s attention, one meant to recover other federal regulatory costs. An annual regulatory fee of 2.3% of gross revenue for licensed producers was proposed, with a 1% fee for micro-cultivators and processors. The proposal is expected to put an additional $100 million into federal coffers every year. No clear policy rationale has been shared with industry for how government determined the 2.3% fee level. The annual regulatory fee proposal also excludes any government service standards despite the legal requirement to do so. This additional tax (which is what the fee is), was also proposed after licensed producers had already negotiated multi-year supply deals with provincial wholesalers based on the previously announced 10% excise tax. On top these taxes and regulatory fees, some provinces are considering additional taxes; Manitoba has proposed an additional 6% social responsibility tax.

As others have warned, high government taxes and fees will hurt legal producers’ ability to compete with the illegal market and ultimately hurt Canadians as well, which runs counter to the government’s rationale for legalizing cannabis in the first place. The imposition of the 2.3% fee also disregards the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that will flow to all levels of government from this new multi-billion dollar industry, that will include new personal income and payroll taxes, corporate income taxes and municipal property taxes. The government would be wise to wait on imposing this new tax until after regulators see how effective Canada’s legal market is at displacing the illegal one.

There are other looming policy issues that will influence the effectiveness of breaking up the illegal market. The government of Ontario’s recent decision to move from a sparsely populated government-run retail distribution network to a private retail model will increase the reach of the legal market in Canada’s largest province. Municipalities across the country will need to deal with the hundreds of unlicensed dispensaries that are operating outside the law to protect retailers who are investing and operating within new provincial rules. The federal government must also move quickly to establish regulations for the recreational production and sale of cannabis edibles, beverages and other products that will remain in the hands of the illicit market after October 17.

As we approach legalization, this new industry is quickly becoming familiar with some of the competitiveness challenges facing other sectors in Canada—namely outdated government thinking on business taxes and fees. Deloitte has forecasted that Canada’s cannabis market will be worth up to $7.17 billion in sales next year. To maximize the economic benefits to Canadians of this $7-billion market, governments must create an environment that supports businesses that are playing by the rules, so they can in turn create new jobs and investment, along with the significant tax revenue for governments that will follow.

This ‘5 Minutes for Business’ article was produced by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

 

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As the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce continues to monitor various pieces of legislation as part of its advocacy mandate, there are several items for which members should be aware.

The Workplace Safety & Prevention Services is one of the organizations the Chamber looks to as a source of expert advice and input on various issues.

The first issue involves Bill C-45, which is set to take effect on October 17. The legislation legalizes the recreational use of marijuana and observers say this could have a dramatic impact on health and safety in your workplace.

The Chamber, through the WSPS, also has its eye on Bill C-65, the federal Harassment and Violence Act, a groundbreaking bill that will have implications for federal workplaces, and Schedule 5 of Ontario Bill 18, which switches responsibility for the costs of injuries to temp workers to the employer.

Bill 174 amendments

Also taking effect on October 17 is an amendment to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (Bill 174) which will prohibit the smoking and ingestion of cannabis in workplaces. This amendment aligns the province with the federal.

Bill 174 requires employers to post signs and notify employees of the act. It also amends the Ontario Highway Traffic Act to prohibit the smoking of cannabis in company vehicles (inside and outside the workplace). This prohibition applies to everyone including employees who have been prescribed medical marijuana.

Those who haven’t already done so are being encouraged to review both the federal and provincial legislation, update your hazard assessments to include the potential for impairment, and create new policies and programs around substance abuse in the workplace

Bill C-65

Before the federal government enacts Bill C-65, it is consulting Canadians on the proposed framework. The bill aims to strengthen the law by proposing, among other things, that workplace programs and policies include measures to prevent sexual harassment and violence and recognize the impact of psychological injuries and illness arising from violence and harassment.

The bill is expected to become law in fall 2019.

Schedule 5 of Bill 18

Proclaimed on April 6, 2018, this bill attributes temporary workers’ injury and accident costs—which are currently paid by temporary help agencies—to employers. This could lead to higher or lower WSIB premiums for employers. The bill is not yet in force.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will continue to update members on various pieces of legislation as part of its ongoing advocacy role.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be managing a short-term project requiring the services of a candidate with stakeholder relations experience and strong interview skills.

The successful candidate, who will be paid a set fee for the services required, will also be skilled in the research and writing of reports.

The project being undertaken will include interviews to be done with international students and graduates. The expectation is that the final report will outline the barriers to future employment faced by those students.

Those interested in discussing the position further should contact Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached by email (preferred method): sdesilva@slchamber.ca.

 

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Let’s face it: most of us have a tendency, at least part of the time, to “put off” what we know we need to get done.

But think of the satisfaction you’ll have when you stop what you’re doing and book your tickets for what is arguably the most significant event on the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce calendar.

We’re talking about the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala, and it takes place NEXT FRIDAY, October 12 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Tickets are going fast and you won’t want to be disappointed.

Our lead sponsor for the OBAA experience is Libro Credit Union, for whom we are grateful for supporting this signature event.

Visit the Imperial Theatre online by CLICKING HERE and give yourself a pat on the back for “getting it done”!

And we’ll see you there!

 

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It’s that time of year—preparing for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at us. And for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, being prepared means reaching out to interested members for quotes on snowplowing and salting services for the parking lot at 556 N. Christina St., Sarnia.

Interested? Reach out to Shirley de Silva, president and CEO, with a quote by FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12 at NOON. Please clearly mark your email message as being related to snowplowing.

And good luck.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has reached out to the Federal Government asking for continued leadership in creating a national strategy to support the development of bioindustry, a sector that is particularly important to our area.

In a letter addressed to Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Chamber’s Charles Fisher, board chair; and Shirley de Silva, president and CEO, pointed out that such a strategy was supported by delegates to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM, which was held recently in Thunder Bay.

Such a national strategy being advocated would develop value chains, increase international connectivity and investment, advance research, target funding, attract investment and jobs, and establish a national voice.

The letter also acknowledged Federal support that included the $12 million funding in 2016 Bioindustrial Innovation Canada’s COMM SCI project, which has national benefits.

 

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In a co-branded event that will take place at DeGroot’s Nurseries on Wednesday, October 17, the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with Blackburn Radio for a combined Sarnia-Lambton Business Showcase/Business After 5.

Members will be greeted by Chamber staff on entering DeGroot’s, followed by opportunities to “mix and mingle.” Many businesses consider the Showcase event to be one of the most effective forms of marketing, especially as the fall season gets into high gear.

‘This is a very good partnership for the Chamber and our members,” says Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “Our relationship with Blackburn Radio is one that we both benefit from as we continue to build a strong business community together.”

This event has a slightly modified Business After 5 schedule, opening at 4 p.m. and running through 8 p.m.

A full list of the vendors that are participating in the Showcase can be found HERE and there is still room for additional vendors.

 

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Sometimes it’s the “little things” that can make a difference. For business owners that put their heart and soul into creating value in their community, having Chamber members visit to welcome them into the fold could very well be one of those special touches.

With that in mind, the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is set to create a group of “Ambassadors” ready and willing to participate.

Those who come forward to become a Chamber Ambassador will be willing to respond to a periodic invitation to visit new members—perhaps a casual ribbon-cutting event—or even pop in on a special anniversary to thank them for being part of the Chamber community.

If this idea appeals to you, please reach out directly to Shirley de Silva, President and CEO, to take the next step.

 

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