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.

Read More

Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi, announced changes to extend time periods for temporary layoffs to allow employers more time to recall laid-off employees. The temporary changes will help protect the jobs of federally regulated private-sector employees and support employers facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020 the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first. For employees laid off between March 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020 unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff. 

These changes do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights. These changes also do not apply to employees whose employment had already been terminated prior to the coming into force of the amendments.

To read the full article, click here.

Read More

As we move into reopening and on to recovery phases across the country, health and safety concerns remain at the forefront. The true key to successful work re-integration and economic recovery for parents is the availability of reliable and affordable childcare.

The federal government should ensure a panorama of voices including business, labour, the childcare sector, academics, experts, parents, and children are represented. They can lead by example in ensuring inclusivity in recovery.

The Canadian Chamber and its network believe that one of the strongest contributions that the federal government can make to a national childcare ecosystem is in workforce planning. In doing this, the focus needs to be on planning, training, and financial support surrounding the childcare sector. 

To read the full commentary by Leah Nord, Senior Director of Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, click here.

Read More

Anxiety manifests itself in many ways, from general anxiety disorder to social anxiety disorder. The condition is highly treatable, but less than 40 percent of people who experience anxiety receive treatment.

Anxiety symptoms vary but all types involve the feeling of extreme fear. Many describe it as a constant state of dread. Anxiety can be a state, there are many common disorders that extend past this fleeting feeling. Disorders like GAD, SAD, PD and Phobias are outlined in the following article.

The treatment for anxiety depends on the disorder you are dealing with and can range from medication, to therapy, to natural remedies like exercise, acupuncture, or deep breathing.

Whether you think you are dealing with anxiety or a generalized anxiety disorder, or the feeling of anxiety on a regular basis make sure to incorporate the following habits:

  1. Accept things out of your control
  2. Learn your triggers
  3. Limit your caffeine and alcohol
  4. Eat regularly
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Move more
  7. Get involved in your community
  8. Seek out support groups
  9. Talk to someone
  10. Take a moment to slow down

To read the full article, click here.

Read More

GMSB LLP feels incredibly fortunate to have been able to continue to operate during the pandemic and to keep all their staff employed (many working from home). They know that most businesses have not been so lucky and wanted to give something back to the community. One of the senior partners at GMSB suggested making a donation to the Inn of the Good Shepherd and everyone enthusiastically agreed. 

The Inn is serving more people now than ever before and they need help, like many other local charities. They have seen many other local businesses make similar donations and GMSB hopes other businesses who have been fortunate enough to operate at nearly full capacity during the pandemic will follow suit. 

GMSB LLP is Sarnia’s oldest and largest law firm. Their office recently relocated from its original site at the bottom of Ferry Dock Hill to 222 Front St. N in downtown Sarnia. There are 10 lawyers working and 25 staff. Thanks GMSB for your incredible display of community leadership!

From left to right in photo: Colin McElrea, Ryan Bel, Maureen Cannon, Greg Bernard, Peter Norris, Myles Vanni.
Read More

Many thanks to the team at the Federal Bridge Corporation – this week, they had two teams of 15 staff at the Good Shepherd’s Lodge for a couple mornings sprucing up the grounds and planting a vegetable garden. This initiative is a part of their “community connections” plan.

Thanks to Degroots Nursery and Roeland’s Plant Farms Inc. for donating the plants for the vegetable gardens.

 

Remove the row

Column: 1

Column: 2

 

Read More

The City of Sarnia is here to help you during this time if you are looking to set. up a patio or extend your current deck.

If you are extending a patio or deck more than 1 foot above grade, you will need to contact building@sarnia.ca for a permit and setback requirements.

If you are an existing business owner looking to expand outdoor food sales on your property or require a city right-of-way contact business@sarnia.ca

If you are interested in applying to have an outdoor space or patio for your existing business, click here.

Read More

From May 1 to August 31 2020, commercial evictions are paused. Landlords can’t seize goods or lockout commercial tenants who are eligible for federal/provincial assistance. 

Landlords can go to court to get an eviction order, but if it is for outstanding rent, it cannot be enforced before September 1, 2020.

If your landlord evicted you or seized your goods between May 1 and June 17, 2020, they must return any unsold goods and let you back into the unit. If they’ve already sold the goods, the proceeds must go towards your unpaid rent. If they’ve re-rented the unit, your landlord must pay you damages.

These changes do not apply to landlords and small businesses participating in CECRA for small businesses as the program already suspends evictions. 

Commercial tenants who can pay their rent must continue to do so. Landlords should work with their tenants to come to an agreement and apply to the CECRA for small businesses. 

For more information on renting commercial property in Ontario during COVID-19, click here.

Read More

The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 (Bill 156) received Royal Assent. The Act will further protect against the health and safety risks of on-farm trespassing.

In recent years, farmers have faced increased levels of trespass and theft of livestock from their farms as well as mental health stress due to these threats. Bill 156 will increase protections for those farmers while simultaneously protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property.

The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020, helps deter trespassers by: 

  • Escalating fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences.
  • Prescribing aggravating factors that would allow the court to consider factors that might justify an increased fine.
  • Allowing the court to order restitution for damage in prescribed circumstances which could include damage to a farmer’s livestock or from theft.
  • Increasing protection for farmers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided the farmer did not directly cause the harm. 
  • Removing consent to enter a farm property when it was given under duress or false pretenses.

To read the full statement from the Ontario Government, click here.

Read More

Canadian Businesses have suffered their greatest economic shock in living memory. The global pandemic has upended revenue forecasts, demolished growth projections, and slowed cash flows to a trickle.

Some of the major cash flow challenges include: sharp and unexpected drops in company revenues, lost cash flow by expanding e-commerce capabilities (or lack thereof), disruption of supply chains, lack of human-to-human contact for many service companies, and many women-owned companies have been hit especially hard due to the concentration in service sectors and carrying the heaviest responsibility for child care.

To sustain cash flow, the immediate task is to manage costs and revenues. The Canadian Business Resilience network offers some essential tips for a successful strategy:

  1. Understand where you are: Take a close and objective look at your situation, understand how long you can operate under these conditions, and identify possible courses of action if things get worse. 
  2. Conserve and stabilize cash resources: What are the key activities and resources you absolutely must keep and which ones should you let go? Examine your accounts receivable and try to collect advance payments or at least get a firm customer commitment about the payment date. See if your supplier will defer payments on goods you’ve already ordered or received.
  3. Find more revenue: If you have assets you don’t really need any more, sell them. Try and form strategic alliances with other businesses to bundle and create increased value for customers and increased sales for both firms. Ask existing clients for referrals to potential new buyers, or using resources to get the extra working capital you need. 
  4. Stay connected: Maintain a close relationship with your financial advisors, institutions and accountant. Don’t neglect your business and customer networks in the turbulence of the moment. Now is the time to strengthen these connections, not ignore them. 
  5. Find current and future market opportunities: Being agile and creative can reveal opportunities you might not have noticed in the pre-COVID-19 times.
  6. Adjust your product or service: A quick pivot can put you back in business and help you stay relevant to your customers.
  7. Look to the future: the pandemic will slowly fade over the coming months, but now is the time to think about the post-COVID-19 business world. Perhaps this means a stronger online presence, your customer base characteristics, diversification will be a necessity and risk management, and financing will assume new importance.

To read the full list by the Canadian Business Resilience Network, click here.

Read More

Partners and Sponsors