After consultations with the Canadian government, the United States has determined that trade in non-alloyed, unwrought aluminum is likely to normalize in the last four months of 2020, with imports declining sharply from the surges experienced earlier in the year.

These tariffs were removed hours before Canada was set to announce its retaliatory measures on Tuesday, Sept 15. 

The U.S, however, has not unconditionally lifted its tariffs on the Canadian aluminum and continues to seek restricted market-driven trade flows. The Canadian Chamber calls on the United States to fully and without precondition remove the threat that tariffs could be re-imposed in the future.

To read the full press release, click here.

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The Ontario Government has returned to the legislature as of Monday, September 14, ready to continue implementing its made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and long-term recovery. The government’s fall legislative agenda will build on the work undertaken over the summer, focusing on job creation, skills training, attracting investment, strengthening communities, and fortifying the front lines of the province’s health care system. 

Priorities for the upcoming session include:

  • Investing in Ontario’s health care system to ensure the province is prepared for a potential second wave of COVID-19 and for any future public health challenges
  • Building Ontario’s production capacity for personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other medical gear so the province never has to rely on any other jurisdiction again for these critical supplies 
  • Protecting families and those most vulnerable and helping them get back on their feet as the province reopens
  • Helping young people and workers receive the skills training they need to join the modern workforce and contribute to the recovery of the province
  • Accelerating the construction of critical highway, transit and broadband infrastructure projects to create jobs and boost the local economies of communities across Ontario
  • Providing relief to Mainstreet Ontario and small business owners so they can recover from the impact of COVID-19 faster and get back to the work of building their business
  • Expanding manufacturing by creating the conditions to bring investments and jobs to the province and world-class, Ontario-made products to consumers around the world. 

Paul Calandra, Ontario’s Government House Leader. “Working across party lines, we were able to quickly pass important programs and protective measures through a special summer sitting of the legislature. Now, as we return to regular fall sittings, the people of Ontario expect us to continue to cooperate to defeat COVID-19 and rebuild our economy.”

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The COVID-19 crisis has been difficult for entrepreneurs, most of whom have been forced to slow down, or stop entirely, their activities in response to the public health crisis.

To help you successfully navigate the recovery, we have put together a five-step framework to help you think about the steps required and keys to success.

Step 1: Health and safety: Go beyond social distancing

Now more than ever, providing a safe workplace is foundational to being able to serve our customers. At this point we have all seen the tape on the floor, and the plexiglass in front of cashiers, at grocery stores. It’s important to recognize that health and safety goes beyond these obvious efforts. It will affect every part of your business, for example:

  • How will you ensure social distancing in common spaces? What about when employees arrive for work?
  • How will you ensure that the fridge and microwave are sanitized between use?
  • How will you deal with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID in your workplace?
  • How will you communicate this information to your employees?

Step 2: Make production decisions

One of the main challenges for businesses in a crisis is to realign offerings to client needs. Goods or services that may have sold before the pandemic, may no longer be top of mind, or customers may not need them in the quantity they did in the past. As a result, your first priority is to try to understand customer demand over the short- and medium-term. Once you estimate the market for various products, the next step is to prioritize products that you can deliver and that will most positively impact cash flow.

Ask yourself:

  • Which of your customers will pay most quickly?
  • What can be sold utilizing existing inventory?
  • What product mix makes sense given the current environment?

Step 3: Assess risks and develop contingencies

With a clear idea of what products or services you want to offer, your next step is to complete a risk assessment to identify any issues that could impact your delivery. We suggest you make a list of the key resources you need, then determine the risks that could endanger your production or delivery of services.

For example:

  • Are you dependent on a supplier that is in danger of closing?
  • Do certain employees have skills that are essential to delivery?
  • Do you have a piece of equipment that is required to service your customers?

Step 4: Restart your operations

When restarting your operations, as mentioned before, your priority should be implementing strong health and safety protocols. In addition to making sure employees are safe and comfortable coming in to work, they minimize the chance of an outbreak that can further impact operations. From there, you’ll be able to outline your operational plan.

  • What will you produce/offer?
  • What material and labour are required?
  • What training is required to be able to operate and minimize risk due to absenteeism?

Step 5: Execute, monitor, and refine

A plan has no value unless it is properly implemented. To ensure proper execution, we suggest holding two types of meetings. The first is a daily problem-solving meeting that’s focused on fulfillment. This meeting will answer questions such as:

  • How did we do yesterday vs. plan?
  • What actions are required to close gaps?
  • What do we need to do today to be successful? (e.g., materials, logistics, etc.)

The second meeting, which would be held weekly, is to review results, identify improvement actions and update your operational and financial plans.

  • How did we do this week vs. plan?
  • What were the biggest issues impacting performance this week?
  • Did we have repetitive downtime due to lack of materials?
  • Did we have issues with customers waiting because we had problems finding stock in the back?
  • Did we waste time because our installation team had to return from the field when they didn’t have the right materials?
  • The goal is to find solutions to these problems, so they don’t recur, and performance improves week over week.

With strong follow up you’ll be able to ensure that you are executing to your plan, and that your plan remains appropriate, as the situation gradually recovers to the new normal.

If you have any questions about this blog, please do not hesitate to ask them in the question box below and we will do our best to answer.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce want your insight for the upcoming Ontario Economic Report and the advocacy of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). This three-minute survey covers business confidence, pandemic recovery, government support programs, and other timely issues. Your responses are completely confidential. 

To complete the survey, click here.

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Lambton Heritage Museum has officially reopened to the public and staff are thrilled to welcome visitors to the annual Paint Ontario show and sale. 

The Paint Ontario show usually takes place in the spring however was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams at Lambton Heritage Museum and the Grand Bend Art Centre are excited to once again host the show this month.

“While we were disappointed to cancel the Paint Ontario event this past spring, we are overjoyed to welcome guests back to the Museum for the event this month,” said Dana Thorne, Curator/Supervisor for Lambton Heritage Museum. “This annual event is always a highlight for staff and visitors, and while this year may look slightly different than years past, there is no doubt it will once again be well received by all.” 

The Paint Ontario exhibit opened Wednesday, September 2, and will run through September 27, 2020. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM, and Thursdays from 11:00 AM until 8:30 PM. 

A variety of artist demonstrations will be taking place outdoors at the Museum throughout the exhibit. Please visit paintontario.com or the Lambton Heritage Museum Facebook page for more information on these demonstrations. 

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The COVID-19 crisis is having a disproportionate economic impact on women. There are several reasons for this including temporary business shutdowns affecting occupations that employ predominantly women, closing of childcare facilities, and being precluded in the planning of the recovery. 

The pandemic has also exacerbated existing inequality and has been especially challenging for certain groups of women, including racialized women, Indigenous women, single mothers, immigrant women, women with disabilities, and those living in rural areas. 

The brief outlines a path to Ontario’s “she-covery” by examining data on the gendered labour market impacts of the pandemic and offering policy solutions to confront both immediate and longer-term challenges. Throughout this, an intersectional lens is essential to ensure no women are left behind. 

Click here to read the full report.

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Companies with 100 or more employees are the most likely to increase employee count in the second half of 2020, according to a recent survey from The Harris Poll.

Largely following the same pattern as the first half of the year, hiring decision-makers at companies with just a handful of employees remain doubtful staff size will increase any time soon.

Just 10% of companies with 2 to 9 employees anticipate hiring more staff, while 29% of companies with 10 to 99 workers said they will bring on more people. Businesses with 100+ employees display the most optimism at 33%.

“It’s not surprising that some larger companies are optimistic,” said Bruce Hein, franchise owner of the Sarnia Express franchise office. “With people stuck at home these last several months, home renovations are on the rise, and large retailers and their suppliers have been busy trying to meet demand. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon for small business owners to live paycheque to paycheque, and the pandemic has pushed many small businesses over the edge.”

Express experts agree small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic shut down and may not have the capital to come out on the other side.

Although there is no one area that hiring decision-makers in Canada overwhelmingly say their companies plan to hire employees for in 2020, General Labour (20%), Customer Service (17%), Sales (15%), and IT/Technology Support (14%) top the list. And, as company size increases, they are more likely to report plans of hiring employees in IT/Technology Support this year (2 to 9 employees, 2%; 10 to 99 employees, 8%; 100+ employees, 30%).

“For the last three months, administrative and accounting/finance positions have been the most common roles we are filling in our region and they haven’t been confined to one industry,” Hein notes. “Whether it’s a law office, an insurance agency, or an industrial company, companies continue to have needs for essential roles like a controller, bookkeeper, payroll, and accounts payable and receivable.”

As the unemployment rate continues to drop, Express CEO Bill Stoller is optimistic and business will continue to pick up across the country.

“While they may not look the same as before the pandemic, jobs are coming back strong, and we need workers to fill them,” he said.

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The Ontario government is providing $37 million to help more than 15,000 people train for new jobs and upgrade their skills to enable them to contribute to the province’s economic recovery. The funding will support 86 projects and provide training in high-demand skills like information technology, advanced manufacturing, truck driving, construction, and horticulture. The programs include internships and other hands-on learning experiences, and in most cases, the training is provided at no charge.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Jane McKenna, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and members of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario. The announcement was made at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 105 Training Centre in Hamilton.

“As part of our government’s made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery, we are making multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investments in transit, highway, and broadband projects,” said Premier Ford. “To get the job done, we need to train as many electricians, welders, carpenters, and other skilled workers as we can. Today’s investment will ensure we have the right people rebuilding our province and contributing to our long-term success.”

“Jobs change lives. Whether you’re a student, a graduate or a mid-career worker, we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to upgrade their skills, gain practical hands-on experience and find a good job,” said Minister McNaughton. “Today’s announcement is an important step forward and a real opportunity to set people down the path to new in-demand careers.”

“Our government values the workers and businesses that help build Ontario,” said Parliamentary Assistant McKenna. “By providing opportunities for thousands of people to upgrade their skills and train for new jobs, we’re making it easier to build a rewarding and life-changing career in the skilled trades.”

Some of the skills training projects receiving funding include:

  • The Ford Motor Company of Canada in Oakville will receive more than $954,000 to create up to 244 co-op learning spots to give college and university students practical, hands-on experience for careers in manufacturing, vehicle connectivity, and business operations.
  • The Greenhouse Academy in Thorndale will receive $440,000 to train secondary students about how to grow plants, prepare seedlings for reforestation projects, and gain real workplace and business experience.
  • Roland Gossage Foundation will receive $500,000 for their Soldiers in Tech project to help up to 45 veterans train for careers in web development and technology.
  • The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario will receive $450,000 to support women in the trades and for health and safety training.

The province is working to finalize agreements with training providers. The full list of successful recipients will be available on September 25, 2020.

To read the full story, click here.

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Join us downtown this weekend for the weekend walkabout with the Sarnia Street Cruisers this Saturday 3-7 pm and the International Symphony Orchestra’s “Through the Looking Glass” this Saturday at 2 pm.

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The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has been named as one of the Top 20 Canadian Economic Development Groups in Site Selection Magazine’s Canada’s Best Locations 2020 Awards.

Recognizing local or regional economic development groups, the awards take into consideration excellence in regional partnerships, proactive and innovative programming, and quality data, web tools and resources. In a recent news release, Site Selection Magazine credits recent projects and investments such as Forge Hydrocarbons, LCY Biosciences, and Woodland Biofuels as key factors in Sarnia-Lambton’s recognition, along with population growth.

This is the third consecutive and seventh time overall in the 14-year history of the Canada’s Best Locations awards that the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has been named as one of the best economic development groups in Canada. “We are thrilled to once again earn this recognition for the Sarnia-Lambton area,” said Stephen Thompson, CEO of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

“The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has established a strong team that proactively engages in unique projects to support business in our communities,” Thompson added, noting “We are proud to offer a wide array of programming that positively assists businesses of all types and sizes.”

“The real reward for that quality programming, above all else, is to bring the jobs and the investment to the area,” he noted. “The Site Selection recognition will bring great exposure to the area, aiding that fundamental cause.”

Joining SLEP on the Top 20 list are economic development offices from larger cities like Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal. “It’s putting us amongst an incredible list of innovative communities and economic development offices,” Thompson said.

Site Selection’s Canadian Competitiveness Award also recognizes Ontario as the most competitive province in a competitive nation, followed by Alberta and British Columbia. “The annual Canada’s Best Locations feature sheds additional light on Canada’s many location options for corporate site selectors,” says Mark Arend, editor in chief of Site Selection. “We salute the provinces and communities that made this year’s rankings.”

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