Steve Paikin of “The Agenda” speaks with Dusty Zamecnik (EZ Grow Farms), Keith Currie (president of Ontario Federation of Agriculture), and Crystal Mackay (CEO of Loft 32) about COVID-19’s impacts on the Agri-Sector. Dusty discusses his biggest concerns are ensuring products can be produced for the shelf in July, and having enough staff to complete the work on time. Crystal acknowledges that most farmers hold an optimistic outlook, yet there is still a lot up in the air regarding livestock numbers and planting the same crops. For example, Keith has altogether decided not to plant flowers due to the economic situation many consumers find themselves in. The 30-minute interview covers topics such as: How are farmers being affected by pandemic regulations?, What are their predictions for the upcoming year?, and what other trends they are noticing during COVID-19.

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The Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be holding their Annual General Meeting (AGM) next Wednesday, May 13th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. During the AGM, reports from the past and incoming chair will be shared, Annette Little will present the 2019 financials, new directors and executive committee members will be elected, and retiring directors will be honoured. This meeting will be held virtually and is open to all members.

To register, click here.

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Between April 28th and 29th, Bluewater Health received 50 dozen donuts on behalf of RE/MAX Sarnia and Global Donuts & Deli. The two businesses collaborated on this wonderful idea in honour of the hardworking doctors, nurses, therapists, medics, and more. The Global Donuts & Deli Facebook page shared a statement in their honour: 

“In ancient times, [there] were shamans, elders, latri, healers…..we know them as nurses, doctors, medics, therapists. Back then, it was considered [divine] work/magic, still!” 

The act was widely praised on both their social media accounts. RE/MAX and Global Donuts are just two of the many amazing local businesses that have provided Sarnia healthcare facilities with gifts as a thank you for their service.

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On Thursday, May 7th at 2:00 pm, The Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be hosting another FREE webinar series. This week’s focus is on helping team members engage and be productive while working from home. Jodi Zigelstein-Yip, of Enliven HR Consulting Inc will be joining this talk to provide her expertise on the conversation and will focus on topics such as, engaging team members and clients virtually, determining how to manage productivity remotely, and realizing the opportunities for team members to create and develop themselves during this time.

To register, click here.

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Last week, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) launched a report for assessing the landscape for Ontario’s economic recovery following the pandemic. The report covers the hardships current businesses are experiencing, risks the current economy faces from now through the Summer months, and the importance of support from each level of government. 

In addition to this report, the OCC has created a Chamber Network Toolkit, that includes an overview, social media posts and graphics, key messaging, policy briefing, and more. This toolkit is intended to help inform relief and recovery efforts. These resources are the first in a series of policy briefings meant to help the transition into the post-pandemic economic situation.

To view the full report, click here (PDF).

To view the toolkit, click here.

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The International Chamber of Commerce launched a website titled: “SOS: Save Our SMEs”. While businesses everywhere are feeling the hardships of COVID-19, the ICC understands that micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises are hit the hardest. These SMEs are the backbone of both global and local economies and without help from the private sector, institutions, and governments, these businesses may not make it. 

The SOS website provides a call to action for Governments and Corporations through fiscal, trade, policy, stakeholder capitalism, and supplier and distribution assistance.The site has plenty of resources, from podcasts to reports, and support via funding opportunities or free services that SMEs can utilize during this time.

To explore this website, click here.

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In this 5 minute video, Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist & Vice President, Policy & Advocacy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, discusses the anatomy of economic downturns. Many individuals are comparing this downturn with past ones, such as the Great Depression or the 2008 recession. Fiscal crises, credit crises, currency crises, hyperinflation have all occurred over the years – however our current situation stems from an international health pandemic that naturally reverberates throughout the world’s economic system.

Across all economic downturns, however, there is an incredible amount of uncertainty. It is unclear how this will pan out, because a lot of answers rely on the timing and strength of the pandemic. Looking at the numbers and predictions, 2 million workers are reporting less hours or none at all. The Bank of Canada expects to see a growth decline of 15% to 30%, and the global output is expected to decline by 3%. General rebounds are also expected in 2021. Regarding recovery, it means Canada will need to figure out a way to ramp up the supply and demand by getting people back to work as soon and as safely as possible, restoring and maintaining supply chains.

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Everyone’s routine has been impacted dramatically, whether that is primarily from the closure of recreational fitness centres, walking throughout the office, or even your commute to and from work. In addition to these disruptions, it is more important now to keep our immune systems healthy and strong when facing a pandemic. 

To help you adjust, the WSPS has shared seven ways to keep your mental and physical health in check while working from home: 

  1. Get up and move as much as possible, ideally aiming for 5 to 10 minutes per hour. 
  2. Utilize home equipment, such as bikes, treadmills, or light weights you’ve had laying around.
  3. Get creative with your fitness routines. Find objects that can be used as weights or for resistance exercises. When in doubt, use your own bodyweight for workouts. 
  4. Take advantage of technology. Set a timer to remind you to get up and move. Utilize the internet to find fitness classes or workout routines that best fit your comfort zone. 
  5. Get outside and enjoy the outdoors wherever you can! 
  6. Yoga and meditation can go a long way for your mental and physical health. Look up online sequences or see if any local studios are doing live classes.
  7. Challenge friends and coworkers for some extra motivation!

For the full article by the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services click here.

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In this report by the Conference Board of Canada, it is discussed that even after COVID-19 case numbers start to decrease, supply chain disruptions could persist as governments work to avoid a reintroduction of the virus and new outbreaks. In saying this, global supply chains may begin to rethink the way they operate at home and abroad, accelerating trends that existed previous to the pandemic. 

It is expected that consumers and businesses will rely more on digital solutions, as businesses that can take advantage of online platforms and technologies will be better positioned to handle supply chain disruptions in the future. 

Export restrictions in several countries are escalating the global trade protectionism trend that existed pre-COVID -19. However, global cooperation is needed not only to tackle the health crisis, but also to restore trust in the supply chains and maintain the benefits global trade has brought over the last 20 years. 

The Conference Board of Canada ends by suggesting the laying off or reduced hours of workers could be viewed as an opportunity to reskill employees so they can be in a better position to tackle the novel business, technological, and employment realities that will become the norm after the pandemic is over.

Click here for the full report.

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This 24 minute video produced by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is one of many in a series of videos they are calling “The Business of Business”. The series highlights a wide range of materials and tools available to businesses during the pandemic. In particular, this video features a conversation with Tara Benham, the national tax leader at Grant Thornton. 

Benham mentions the main questions being addressed by Grant Thornton clients are “how can I help my employees?” and “how do I help my business survive?”. To address this second question, Benham mentions that funding from the federal and provincial government is changing every day, but the big funding programs include: 

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – $2,000 a month for those unable to work, or part-time/seasonal workers
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – 75% subsidy up to a maximum of $847 a week
  • Temporary Wage Subsidy – 10% wage subsidy allowing the employer to reduce the withholdings on employees 
  • Canada Emergency Bank Account – $40 000 interest free loan with 25% or $10 000 forgiveness if paid by December 2022
  • EDC & BDC loans available through banks
  • Delayed filing dates for nearly all CRA files. Aiming to keep that money in the economy. 

There are still a few holes, Benham states, including university students losing summer jobs, senior citizens portfolios have decreased, and commercial rent relief. However, all these are being discussed in parliament and solutions should become available soon.

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