As local companies will discover on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, there is a largely untapped source of quality employees out there.

Through the “DiscoverAbility Forum,” held at the Holiday Inn in Sarnia/Point Edward and sponsored in part by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Business SenseAbility is partnering with local employment agencies to outline the real, proven advantages of employing people with disabilities.

The event is FREE but registration is required. Click HERE to register.

As you will hear from local inclusion champions, hiring people with disabilities has a positive impact on business growth and can give the business the competitive advantage it needs.

Keynote speaker Lisa Kelly will provide the business case for hiring people with disabilities and present an online toolkit designed to provide employers with a “roadmap” that outlines the benefits of hiring those with disabilities and the tools they need to start hiring the talent they need.

Hiring people with disabilities is not just “doing the right thing,” it is “doing the smart thing for your business.”

The event is in support of Community Employment Services Lambton College, Community Living Sarnia-Lambton, the Goodwill Career Centre, Goodwill Industries—Essex, Kent, Lambton, Lambton County Development Services, The Workplace Group and the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Breakfast will begin at 7 a.m., with the keynote beginning at 7:20 a.m. sharp, followed by the panel of inclusion champions. There will be local community service booths set up to give attendees an opportunity for networking and connecting with local service providers who can assist with inclusive hiring plans.


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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella organization of which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member, has outlined a set of clear priorities that will give Canada a competitive edge, improve productivity and grow the economy.

In “10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins,” the Chamber is offering a roadmap to what’s possible with a focus when we all work together.

Included in the “10 Ways”:

—Make Canada a Magnet for Business Investment;
—Ensure a Globally Competitive North America;
—Make Canada an Agri-food Powerhouse;
—Develop Agile Workforce Strategies;
—Make All of Canada an Export Gateway;
—Improve Regulatory Efficiency, Achieve Regulatory Alignment and Ensure the Unrestricted Movement of Goods and People Across Canada;
—Help SMEs Trade and Grow;
—Provide Opportunities for Business Development to Support Self-determination for Indigenous Peoples;
—Make Canada a Global Innovator;
—Make Canada the World’s One-stop Shop for Green Resources and Technology.

Along with a detailed document, which can be found HERE, the Chamber has produced a video which gives a glimpse into what is possible.


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What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you walk into a room full of strangers?

“Stranger Danger! I don’t know what to say, how to introduce myself, or what to talk about. So I’m going to only talk to people I know, take frequent bathroom breaks and leave early without ever meeting anyone new.”


Networking is one of the most important marketing tools for businesses to ensure their long-term success. Yet, it is one of the most intimidating, time-consuming, and poorly executed methods used. For those new to the game, it can sometimes result in uncomfortable introductions, awkward silences, and quick getaways to the food table to recover.

But it doesn’t have to be like that! Networking is a learnable skill that even the most introverted people can learn to do with ease.

Chamber member Karen Minty, a well-known writer and networking pro, is offering a two-hour workshop to help change that thinking for the better, giving you a quick overview of the what, when, why, and where to network, with easy practical tips that you can try out right there at the workshop.

Put Stranger Danger behind you and learn to network like a pro.

The event takes place Friday, February 16 at 9 a.m. in the Chamber Boardroom, at 556 Christina St. N. Limited space available so register today by email at Cost is $35+HST. Tickets are going fast, so don’t delay!

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“Red Tape”—loosely defined as the needless “piling on” of rules and regulations—is an ongoing challenge for businesses across the province and right here in Sarnia-Lambton.

We intend to keep the pressure on the government to reduce Red Tape by sharing your stories about how these types of regulation have impacted your business.

With our links to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its annual Business Confidence Survey, we’ll be helping to spread the word.

Please send us your story today. You can email us HERE.



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Two local financial services professionals, Dennis Kjeldsen and John Pilkey, both connected with Sun Life, are hosting an event next Wednesday, February 7, 2018: “Private Corporation and Tax Planning: What the Legislative Proposals Mean for You.”

The event, which features guest speakers Jennifer Poon and Michael Kraik, takes place at the Sarnia Riding Club from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

An RSVP is requested. Refreshments and appetizers will be provided.

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The Annual General Meeting of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, a time for both reflection on the past year’s accomplishments and a look ahead, is right around the corner.

Registration (no cost) is requested: CLICK HERE.

Members are invited to attend the event, Wednesday, February 28, 2018, in the Gateway Room of the St. Clair Corporate Centre, with networking from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by the call to order and the formalities, including various reports along with business items that include election of the directors and the swearing in of executive officers.

We have two special guest speakers at this year’s AGM—Dr. Katherine Albion, the newly appointed executive director of the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, and James Temple, chief corporate responsibility officer at PwC Canada.

It will be a great time to find out all that’s happening at the Chamber and the exciting times ahead. We hope to see you there!

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Whether you work in business or non-profit, a well-told story can help you grow your business. With the help of two professional writers/storytellers, this 90-minute workshop will help you weave the four required elements of a good story into a captivating article that will capture your audience’s attention.

Two local writers, Karen Minty and J.D. Booth, are bringing their experience to workshop attendees, with a POWERFUL guarantee: within 90 days of the course, you will receive a placement (story and photo) on Lambton Shield, a digital-only local news site that has grown in popularity through telling stories that matter to our community.

Whether you are starting from scratch or just looking to wordsmith your message, these two writers will provide tips and hands-on help so you can tell your story like a pro.

The workshop will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Wednesday, February 21, 2018 in the Chamber’s boardroom. Investment is $39 per person for Chamber members, $59 for non-members. All ticket prices are plus HST.

To register for this limited space workshop, CLICK HERE.

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With awareness of mental health issues becoming increasingly important, organizations like the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce understand that our members may be looking for ways to help.

It’s one reason that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is providing members with a toolkit that can be used to highlight the issue. And with Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” Day taking place this Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, the timing couldn’t be better.

The fact is, one in five Canadians of working age live with a mental health problem or illness and many of these workers do not receive the appropriate support at their workplace, the “mental health action gap” identified.

A recent survey showed that while some 81 percent of employers believe spending on employees’ health and well being is a good investment, only 4 in 10 businesses have a formal mental health strategy in place.

A toolkit developed by the OCC outlines the benefits of a healthy workplace, helps define what a healthy workplace looks like, and lays out steps for businesses to take meaningful action in addressing mental wellness in the workplace.

The gap between business sizes is particularly acute, as only 35 percent of small businesses have a mental health strategy compared to 65 percent of medium and 76 percent of large businesses.

There is, however, a strong business case for implementing a mental health strategy in the workplace. Mental illnesses cost the Canadian economy an estimated $50 billion annually and, on average, cost businesses almost $1,500 per employee per year.

Understandably, small businesses often lack the resources to act on mental wellness or simply lack the knowledge of  what to do.  The Toolkit for Employers, provided as a FREE service to our members, can be accessed HERE.  It provides good information on how to build a healthy workplace!

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is collaborating with other Chambers near the U.S. border in delivering a message to the Canadian Federal Government—keep the limit on the minimum level at which taxation would kick in for goods being shipped to Canada from the U.S.

Our Chamber is part of a coalition including Windsor-Essex, Greater Niagara, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay, all of which want to ensure a level playing field.

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP forecasts a loss of up to 300,000 jobs should a $20 limit on what is known as the “de minimus threshold” (or DMT) be raised to $800 (as the U.S. has proposed).

This would allow big American online vendors to unfairly compete on Canadian soil, with up to $9.2 billion being lost in labour income, according to the PwC study.

In May 2017, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce at its Annual General Meeting (held in Sarnia) passed a resolution supporting maintaining of the DMT.

Now the Chambers are urging the Federal Government to stay firm on the $20 limit, thus preventing the granting of an unfair advantage to foreign retail sellers operating in the Canadian marketplace.

“This issue is important, not only to our local retailers, but in the ripple effects that will threaten businesses for years to come,” said Shirley de Silva. “As negotiations on NAFTA take place, it’s vital that the interests of our business community are upheld.”


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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of its members, participated in the Ontario government’s pre-budget consultation process with a submission last week in Windsor where the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held its hearings.

Both Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber, and Monica Shepley, manager of Advocacy and Policy Development, were at the hearing.

Stability and certainty are key to businesses in our area, said de Silva in her presentation.

Entrepreneurs are used to taking on risk and sound businesses have the power to develop strategies that deal with such changes, however, success depends on having enough time, stability and a supportive government to implement changes.

The major concerns of its members, including the 71% hike in electricity costs that have occurred between 2008 and 2016 were highlighted along with the minimum wage increase of 31.6%, carbon pricing which is estimated to increase extra costs, and a combination of higher provincial and federal income taxes.

We are advocating for an analysis that would show the real costs of doing business in the province.

The government should also:

—lower of the Corporate Income Tax rate that would help businesses in Ontario compete with those in Michigan and New York;
—allow Ontario businesses to purchase surplus electricity at rates equal to or better than the exported price;
—recognize companies that have already adopted the most advanced carbon reduction technologies prior to the introduction of Cap and Trade; and
—dedicate carbon tax revenues to R&D where such technologies are non-existent in traditional Energy-Intensive, Trade-Exposed sectors.

We are also advocating for IMMEDIATE action on supporting additional investment for infrastructure, including funds that would support “last kilometre” connections to homes and businesses for natural gas and fibre internet.

Investment in other infrastructure renewal was brought forward at the hearing along with a provincial framework in support of Sarnia-Lambton’s emerging bioeconomy.

“Our members would like to see more equitable, stable and formula-based funding for municipalities that are linked to asset management plans,” said de Silva in her presentation. “This would allow communities to plan ahead and decide on their own projects, based on local, non-political priorities.”



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