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Welcome to Kimberley Inniss-Petersen, the newest  member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce team as Manager of Member Engagement and Retention.

Kimberley, who lives in Petrolia with her husband and three daughters, is passionate about her community.  In her new role, which is also a new one for the Chamber, Kimberley will be

applying her people skills, developing  strategies that will improve the Chamber’s value proposition for the membership.  Kimberley can be reached by email at kim@slchamber.ca

 

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Chamber members will be starting out fall in style next Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at the first Business After 5 of the season.

The event will take place at the Rooted Bohemian Salon & Day Spa in Petrolia, located at 4194 Petrolia Line, between Centre Street and Tank Street.

Members are welcome, but so are guests—especially those who may be checking out the Chamber as an important part of their networking strategy.  A non-member entrance fee of $10 is applicable; members are free.

Featured at the event will be live music and food, with numerous networking opportunities available. Click for more information.

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Worried about possible business tax changes? Come out Tuesday afternoon to see what we’re doing about it and show your support for Chamber members who would be impacted.

We have heard members tell us that increasing costs like electricity and wages are making it difficult for your business to compete. We are now hearing concerns from across Canada about the federal government’s proposed changes to corporate taxes. The changes would impact family businesses, farmers and professionals like doctors and dentists who rely on corporate earnings to save for their retirement, pay for their kids’ education and pass on their business to future generations. You can read more about the proposed changes in Your Guide to Corporate Tax Changes.

To hear how these changes will impact families and business owners in Sarnia-Lambton, please join us for a media event at Manley’s Basics 152 Kendall St, Pt. Edward, on Tuesday, September 19 at 4:00 PM.

We hope you can come out to show that this issue matters to you and support your fellow Chamber members. There will also be a brief presentation about proposed changes by Debra Taylor (FCPA, FCGA), Hume McDonough Little Taylor, LLP.

If you have a story to share about how the tax changes would affect you as a business owner, we want to hear from you. Please call either Shirley de Silva or Monica Shepley at 519-336-2400.

 

 

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Rural residents, farmers, and businesses on the outskirts of Sarnia won’t be forced to pay for bus services, following calls by the Chamber to tax only those who have the opportunity to use bus services.

At Monday’s meeting, Council considered removing the current “transit levy” and requiring all Sarnia tax payers to share in the cost of conventional bus services. This would have included taxpayers who do not have the service and cannot access it near their homes or places of business.

After consulting members, the Chamber wrote to Council expressing their concerns, “until conventional service is made available everywhere, it is only a public good for those who have the opportunity to access it.”

The Chamber’s input was part of a wider public consultation held over the summer. The City had issued a survey to which 400 people responded, with 63% objecting to the changes being proposed.

In the end, Council decided to maintain status quo and open up the discussion to other options.

Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva said instances like this, where the Chamber facilitates discussions in response to proposed legislation that could impact business, is part of what the organization does on a regular basis.

“Our members are the lifeblood of the community, providing the essential tax base,” she said. “We believe by acting collectively, we can get our message to those who write the laws so that they are aware of how our members would be affected.  In this case, they have listened.”

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The federal government has announced plans to change corporate tax rates that could have big impacts on small business owners and their families.

The Sarnia-Lambton Chamber supports measures that prevent tax evasion, but these changes go beyond that, and will punish many legitimate businesses. The government should put these changes on hold to avoid hurting thousands of small businesses across the country and to have a broader, thoughtful discussion regarding the measures needed to stop those who use their businesses to avoid paying taxes.

To find out more about the proposed changes, read Your Guide to Corporate Tax Changes and the article “Concern mounts over Morneau’s proposed tax changes affecting small businesses” which appeared in the Globe and Mail and discusses the latest news around the government’s taxation plans.

Now is the time to make your voice heard, which can be done by:

The government is accepting comments until October 2, 2017

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While discussions around changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement are in their early stages, Canadian businesses are becoming more vocal around a potential change to the minimum level by which goods are taxed when they enter the country, either through e-commerce or cross-border shopping.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is among the organizations concerned.

The issue—which is referred to as the De Minimis Threshold—is potentially under pressure as American retailers in particular want to make it easier to do business across our border. The problem for Canadian retailers is that it puts them at an unfair advantage, which is something that no one in Canada wants.

A more complete explanation of the issue can be found HERE, outlining the position of Chambers in Sarnia-Lambton, Greater Niagara, and Windsor-Essex.

An article in the Windsor Star, which can be seen HERE, points to a “real world” example of the impact a change to the De Minimis rate could have on the local economy.

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As a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber, you have the opportunity to help decide how your local chamber and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce advocate for business. There are two opportunities:

 

Locally:

If you are a small business member and have some ideas of how the Chamber can better advocate for small businesses like yours, let us know by emailing Monica Shepley, the Chamber’s manager of advocacy and policy development at mshepley@slchamber.ca

Nationally:

Review any of the 76 policy resolutions that will be debated by chambers from across Canada at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce annual meeting being held on September 23-25 in Fredericton, N.B. The complete list of proposed resolutions can be downloaded by clicking this link: 2017ProposedPolicyResolutions. We want to know, should we support the policy, oppose it or make amendments?

There are three ways you can make sure your views are included in the debate:

  1. Email speakup@slchamber.ca.
  2. Post your feedback in the comments section below this article.
  3. Attend a review session to discuss the policies in person. To do so, contact Monica Shepley at mshepley@slchamber.ca.

The opportunity to touch base with members is always important, particularly where it comes to advocacy and having a keen understanding of how the numerous issues affect small business will help us be better equipped to have key discussions with government representatives at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

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The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce (WERCC) partnered with the Sarnia Lambton, Greater Niagara, and Thunder Bay Chambers to ensure local business interests are strongly represented in NAFTA discussions by bringing their “Protect Canadian Business by Keeping the De Minimis Threshold Low” resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM, September 23-25, 2017 in Fredericton, NB.

 

Given that NAFTA renegotiations appear to be going forward, the four Chambers recommend that the federal government maintain the current Canadian De Minimis level of $20 to prevent granting an unfair advantage to foreign online retail sellers operating in the Canadian marketplace.

 

Any level of an increase in the DMT in Canada (currently $20) would be unwelcomed for retailers and raising the De Minimis level to $200 would lead to massive increases in cross-border purchases negatively affecting retailers in items such as apparel, footwear, books, toys, consumer electronics and housewares, most of which are priced below $200 and easily shipped. The losses in terms of new investments, jobs and economic activity could be significant.

 

The U.S. De Minimis level is $800. The U.S. retailers, however, are dominating their online retail space with only 22% of U.S. customers purchasing from non U.S. sellers. By contrast 67% of Canadians report having made online cross-border purchases. U.S. online sales are not subject to the collection of state or federal sales taxes.

 

To help our retail sector, the Government of Canada should support the continuation of a level playing field between retailers operating here in Canada and those who sell online from outside Canada and ship goods cross-border by post or courier.

 

“Given the large imbalance between online shopping in Canada and the U.S., it makes sense to leave the De Minimis where it is,” said WERCC President & CEO Matt Marchand.

 

“The Canadian retail landscape is undergoing tremendous change, and retailers are facing many challenges. The retail industry is Niagara’s largest collective employer, as it is in many other regions. To protect Canadian industry and Canadian jobs, we have added our voice to the call for a maintained De Minimis level and a NAFTA that works for Canada,” said Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mishka Balsom.

 

“Local businesses are going to be impacted by any changes to NAFTA,” said Shirley de Silva, President of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, “and the point at which taxation kicks is a real concern among our membership as it could put them at a competitive disadvantage.”

 

“Local retailers are already struggling to keep their heads above water with the rising costs of doing business in Ontario added to global competition from online shopping,” said Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. “An increase in the De Minimis limits could be the last straw for many small retailers.”

 

In order for a resolution to pass, it requires support from two-thirds majority of Canadian Chambers across the country.

 

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