Representatives of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are preparing to make a presentation to the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs as part of annual pre-budget consultations, but individual members still have time to bring forward any concerns on key issues.

Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber, will be among those travelling to Windsor for the Friday, January 19 hearing.

“We have been specifically invited to present our views on several important subjects, including the impact Bill 148 is expected to have on our economy and the impact the Government’s Cap & Trade strategy will have on our members,” said de Silva. “We know from experience that Governments at all levels have an obligation to take the pulse of the public on important issues, including budgets. Taking the time to exercise that right and responsibility is something we take seriously but it begins with action.”

Members can contact the Chamber office with any questions and the Government has set a deadline for public comments ahead of the budget. The deadline for written submissions is Friday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.

Written submissions should be addressed to Clerk Eric Rennie ( or by mail to:
99 Wellesley St. West
Toronto, ON M7A 1A2




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Chamber members are specifically being invited to participate in this year’s EmployerOne Survey, an initiative of the Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board that will ultimately inform prospective employees, as well as students and job seekers.

The survey, which can be accessed HERE, is a key method being used by the SLWDB to bridge any gaps that may exist between demand and supply in the workforce. The deadline for participation in the survey is January 31, 2018.

The survey asks questions about your current workforce, hiring trends, skills in demand, and recruitment strategies. This survey is best completed by owners, managers, and human resource departments. Any questions on the survey should be directed to Shauna Carr, executive director of the SLWDB at (519) 332-0000.


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This is exciting!  The Chamber’s Business After 5 tradition continues with the first event of the season taking place on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 at the St. Clair Corporate Centre, 265 Front Street, Sarnia.

Hosted by Grind Cafe & Catering Co, a new Chamber business, this month’s Business After 5 (to be held in the Gateway Room), is a great chance to network and “catch up” with long-standing connections—and, of course, meet new members.

We are all busy, of course, says Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber. But we also need to make time to form new business relationships and the Business After 5 is the ideal opportunity for this to happen. We hope to see you there!

There is no admission cost for Chamber members and guests (a $10 entrance fee applies to others).


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Members are being asked to participate in a survey intended to assess the impact of various issues involving the North American Free Trade Agreement. The confidential survey, which is being initiated by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, will inform discussions with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, policy advice to both the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada as it applies to NAFTA.

Members have until Monday, January 15, 2018 to respond to the survey, a link to which can be found HERE.

As part of a strategy pursued by the current U.S. government, NAFTA has been reopened, with discussions between the United States, Canada and Mexico ongoing since last summer.

“Opportunities such as this one are part of what makes the Chamber network such a powerful and influential one,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “But the real strength comes when individuals take the time to participate in these invitations and we hope that will be the case here.”


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Sarnia-Lambton Member of Parliament Marilyn Gladu has earned the congratulations for seeing her Private Member’s Bill—C-277—enacted into law.

The new legislation, also known as the “Framework on Palliative Care in Canada Act,” received Royal Assent on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.

Now that the law has been enacted, the federal government must come up with a cohesive national plan that will bridge provincial action with the effect of giving people who are dying the option of quality “end-of-life” care.

She explained the process that took place in order for the Private Member’s Bill to become law.

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Subject matter expert Anthony Folan of Integral HR Solutions is presenting a “Marijuana in the Workplace” half-day seminar that will provide employers with “must know” information on the subject.

The event, which is scheduled for January 18, 2018, from 8 a.m. to noon, will take place at the Hampton Inn in Sarnia/Point Edward. The sponsor is the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance. The cost is $40 (plus HST) per person with the fee including a hot buffet breakfast.

Attendees will learn:

—Employers rights and responsibilities around “Marijuana in the Workplace”
—Fitness for Duty—Police recommendations
—How to determine whether your organization is ready for Bill 148, including an Employment Standards Update
—Proven performance management strategies
—Bulletproof terminations
—Creating an effective workplace cell phone policy.

To register for this “limited space” event, click HERE.

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Getting your message out to a targeted audience of business leaders in Sarnia-Lambton has just become easier.

Advertising packages are now available through the Chamber—for both our website ( and our weekly newsletter, the Chamber Times.

In both cases, reach out to Sarnia Lambton Advertising Services, which is operated by J.D. Booth, a Chamber member.

You can contact J.D. directly at (519) 466-2811 or by email (for purposes of advertising with the Chamber):

Members of the Sarnia Lambton Advertising Services team will be reaching out to make Chamber members aware of these opportunities.



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With Ontario’s Bill 148 (the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) now law as of Nov. 22, 2017, employers need to be aware of key provisions that are likely to impact your business.

Some provisions come into effect on January 1, 2018, with various recommendations for businesses so affected:


—Minimum wage increases to $14 an hour on January 1, 2018.


—Determine how many employees are paid less than $14 per hour and update wage structures to ensure compliance.
—Assess the differential between the lowest paid jobs and other jobs and adjust accordingly.


—Employees who have been with the same employer for five years are entitled to three weeks of vacation per year (an increase from two).


—Prepare to change policies and practices effective January 1, 2018.
—Review your record-keeping practices in relation to vacation to ensure the new requirements are met.


—Regular wages in the pay period before the holiday will be divided by the days worked (rather than a four-week period of wages divided by 20).
—Employees who work on a public holiday can elect to receive a substitute day off and must be provided with a written notice of the substitute holiday date.


—Review how public holiday pay is calculated for your employees.
—Ensure that your payments are equal to or exceed the payments required under the new formula.
—Develop a tracking process to use when providing a substitute day to employees who work on a public holiday.


—Rather than limiting this leave to organizations with more than 50 employees, all workers can take 10 personal emergency leave days per year.
—At a minimum, the first two days will be paid.
—Employers retain the right to require evidence of entitlement to these days, but are not permitted to require a certificate from a qualified health practitioner.


—Review your existing PEL policy and ensure the first two days taken will be paid.
—Implement a system to track PEL usage.

Provided courtesy of Express Employment Professionals. Source: Ontario Government, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services.

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Business success can often be predicted, say experts with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, a division of the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

The first indicator is employee engagement, which is critical to performance in any organization.

Employees need to be engaged, focused, at their post, able to handle complexities, plan, make decisions, build relationships—and for that they need to be safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Without that baseline, they can’t focus on growing your business, however much they might want to or try. Studies show that an engaged workforce can increase profit margins by as much as 4% and yield up to 22% more in shareholder returns.

The second indicator is the ability of your supervisors to defend against preventable risk. Supervisors have an up-close and personal view of what’s happening every day. They know workers best, pull the levers of motivation, and are responsible for monitoring compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.

Workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities are often symptoms of defects in a business’s health and safety culture, as well as its policies and procedures. These defects also result in near misses, inefficiencies, equipment damage, unproductive attitudes, and more.

Competent, plugged-in supervisors, when supported by their employers, have the frontline perspective to identify such defects and weaknesses, and implement processes to defend against them.

But what’s the best way to invest in this important role?

“Of all the workplace parties, supervisors have the toughest gig when it comes to health and safety,” says Scott Morrow, a WSPS training specialist. “They have the most responsibilities under various pieces of legislation.”

He says the most important thing an employer can do is educate and train supervisors in those responsibilities.  He identifies five areas to focus your efforts on.

1. The Occupational Health and Safety Act. Without a working knowledge of the act, a supervisor cannot be deemed “competent.” Yet, Scott says many supervisors he trains have scant knowledge of the act and their duties under it. “If they don’t know the law, they can’t enforce it,” says Morrow. It’s critical that employers also understand the act and what competency means.

2. Hazard identification, risk assessment, and controls. Training on existing and potential hazards is also required for a supervisor to be deemed competent, says Morrow. “Supervisors have to educate and train workers. They can’t do that without getting the proper training themselves.”

3. Due diligence. “Supervisors must take every precaution reasonable to protect workers,” explains Morrow. In the event of an incident, “they can be charged for failing to make sure something happens.” To prove due diligence, “they need to have documentation, policies, procedures, job description, education and training records, compliance notes, discipline records, and more.”

4. Accommodation and return to work. Many supervisors are asked by their employers to accommodate returning workers or workers with disabilities while having little or no knowledge of what the law requires, says Morrow.

5. Leadership and coaching. Effective supervisors need to be good at both.

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services can help through a two-day course that’s available in class or on site.

This training solution goes beyond awareness of supervisors’ legal roles and responsibilities, engaging participants in identifying real-life challenges and solutions. It considers the day-to-day context in which supervisors perform their role and brings to life the concept of organizing work and performance.

This soft skills based solution teaches supervisors to motivate, coach, discipline and support employees, and now includes content on:

—mental health;
—conflict resolution;
—human rights;
—progressive discipline;
—violence and harassment;
—what to do if an injury happens; and
—workers with disabilities

Supervisors play a pivotal role in building a positive workplace culture that integrates business needs with health and safety.

Online details on registration for this course can be found HERE.




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What do Canadians want for Christmas this year? It looks like we all have good cheer on our minds: An Ipsos poll (commissioned by the Montreal Economic Institute, Canadian Constitutional Foundation and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and released a few days ago) found that 89% of Canadians believe they should be able to buy any amount of alcohol they want in one province and transport it to another. Restrictions on the movement of beer and wine across provincial boundaries are just one e example of the barriers that impede trade within Canada, drive up business costs, and hurt Canadian consumers.

In many cases, the problem is unnecessary differences in provincial and territorial regulations, leading to complex, and costly compliance requirements for businesses operating across provincial boundaries. In other more egregious cases, like restrictions on the interprovincial movement of alcohol, it is nothing less than out – and – out protectionism.

There is no question that freer trade among provinces and territories would lower the cost of doing business in Canada, attract more investment, and provide more choices at more competitive prices for consumers. However, governments have been slow to take meaningful action to remove these barriers. Restrictions on the sale and transportation of beer and wine have been off limits to any reform initiative. But, not all hope is lost. Like an awkward holiday dinner with the in – laws, beer and wine might save us still.

The Canadian Chamber is an intervener in the Supreme Court Case, R v Comeau. Gerald Comeau is the New Brunswick retiree who five years ago drove to Quebec to buy some alcohol. On his way home, crossing back into New Brunswick, he received a ticket from the RCMP for transporting alcohol across the border. He challenged the ticket in court won. Now the case has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Although the Comeau case is about alcohol, its implications are much larger. With the Comeau case, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to take a historic step towards freer interprovincial trade. The case rests on the interpretation of s. 121 of the Canadian Constitution, which states, “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.”

The courts have interpreted this provision narrowly in the past, which has allowed provincial and territorial governments to enact trade barriers to protect domestic producers. However, the Chamber believes that a broader interpretation, which could outlaw many of the protectionist trade practices that have been engaged in for years, is appropriate.

As the Comeau case proceeds, there are signs that governments in Canada understand that the status quo is unsustainable. Earlier this year, the federal, provincial and territorial governments enacted the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, a pact which holds promise to remove barriers and facilitate regulatory harmonization between jurisdictions through a regulatory reconciliation process. While that is a nice stocking stuffer, a win for Gerald Comeau may be the perfect Christmas present for Canadians.

A short summary of the Comeau case and our legal argument is available here. Our lawyers presented oral arguments at the Supreme Court hearing in Ottawa on December 6 and 7, 2017.

The above article is part of a series—5 Minutes for Business—from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which counts the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as a member. More information is available from Aaron Van Tassel, policy advisor with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at (613) 238-4000, ext. 262 or by email:




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