Sarnia City Council decided on June 19, 2017 to extend consultations over the summer on two important issues: a proposal to impose the transit levy on properties that don’t have access to conventional bus services, and a proposed bylaw that would regulate trees located on private properties.

Residents wanting to comment on the transit levy now have until August 4 to complete the survey: http://clerks.smartsarnia.com/transit-service-property-taxation/. Comments can also be shared by emailing transittax@sarnia.ca or calling 519-332-0330. A staff report and final recommendations will be presented to Council on September 11.

Residents wanting to comment on the tree bylaw now have until October 1 to complete the survey: http://planning.smartsarnia.com/tree-by-law-questionnaire/ . Comments can be emailed to trees@sarnia.ca. Council will review the draft bylaw at their meeting on October 23.

If you would like to share your questions or concerns with the Chamber, contact us at speakup@slchamber.ca or 519-336-2400.

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This fall, the Ontario government will vote on Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs), which proposes a $15 minimum wage and a number of other measures impacting vacation time, scheduling, temp agency employees and unionization.

If you have any questions or comments about this legislation, please contact the Chamber at speakup@slchamber.ca.

You also have the opportunity to voice your opinion directly to the government. You can do so by registering to participate in a public hearing or by writing to the committee that is reviewing Bill 148.

Public Hearings:

Friday, July 14 at St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, International Room, 201 Riverside Drive West, Windsor, Ontario –Agenda

Monday, July 17 at Delta London Armouries, 325 Dundas St., Gunnery Ballroom, London, ON – Agenda

The deadline to register to speak has passed, but the public is welcome to attend and observe.

Written submissions:

Letters can be sent to Clerk of the Committee at erennie@ola.org, or Room 1405, Whitney Block, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON  M7A 1A2 no later than 5:30 P.M on Friday, July 21.

More details can be found here.

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Sixteen Chamber members took home awards last Friday evening after a sold-out celebration at the Imperial Theatre. The 28th annual Outstanding Business Achievement Awards (OBAAs), sponsored by Libro Credit Union, is one of the highlights of the Chamber calendar.

The OBAAs recognize local businesses and individuals for their vital role in creating a vibrant, diverse and prosperous community.  It is the culmination of a selection process that began last December when nominations were officially opened. The general public was invited to nominate their favourite businesses and those who accepted their nominations submitted a nomination package, which was judged by an independent group. The nomination and selection process is one that is well-respected and done so in a way that there is genuine surprise and delight when the winners are announced.

Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO, said the quality of this year’s nominees has never been better. “We have some of the most progressive businesses of any region in the province or even the nation,” she said. “Being able to celebrate their successes in this way is really something that we can all get behind and enjoy on a night like this.”

“All nominees are to be congratulated for having been selected in this process,” said de Silva. “As is often said, it is truly an honour to have been nominated. To go on to win is the icing on the cake.”

And the winners are:

Employee Relations
LEHDER Environmental Services
www.lehder.com

Exporter of the Year
www.cargill.com

Young Entrepreneur
Mike Rondinelli, Lambton Family Dental
lambtonfamilydental@gmail.com

Business Leadership
Rob Taylor, Sarnia Lambton Industrial Educational Cooperative
www.sarniasafety.com

Marketing and Promotions
Sunripe
www.sunripe.ca

Health, Safety and Environment
Pollutech Enviroquatics Ltd.
www.pollutechgroup.com

Social Profit
Sarnia-Lambton Rebound
www.reboundonline.com

Member of the Year
Peter Sparks, All Seasons Trophies & Signs
www.allseasonstrophies.ca

Small Business of the Year
Centrepoint I.D.A. Pharmacy
www.centrepointida.com

Large Business of the Year
Bluewater Power
www.bluewaterpower.com

Agri-Business
Alton Farms Estate Winery
www.altonfarmsestatewinery.com

Inclusivity
The Studio
www.brianslaughter.zumba.com

Customer Service—Large
Lambton KIA
www.lambtonkia.com

Customer Service—Small
Lilith Boutique
www.lilithboutique.com
Customer Service—Individual
Bea Vasey, Altered Elegance
www.facebook.com/beavasey

Innovation
Terrapure Environment
www.terrapureenv.com

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One of the greatest challenges we hear from businesses is finding the right talent. A survey of Ontario Chamber of Commerce members found that 82% of the businesses that were recruiting in 2016 found it difficult to recruit workers with the right technical training, certifications, and/or “soft skills” such as communications, entrepreneurship and organizational awareness.

The problem is due to a combination of lower unemployment rates, an aging population, youth pursuing longer educations, and students choosing university degrees over obtaining a skilled trade.

It’s not just employers that are worried. More than half of Ontario’s workers fear that their skills will not be useful a decade from now because of automation and changes in the economy.

The impact of this “skills mismatch” is increased turnover rates, reduced productivity, increased unemployment, job dissatisfaction and highly educated people working in positions for which they are overqualified (think of a Master’s graduate working at Starbucks).

In its newest report, “Talent in Transition: Addressing the Skills Mismatch in Ontario”, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce recommends 10 way to address this problem.

  1. Help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) offer “experiential learning opportunities” like co-ops, internships and apprenticeships.
  2. Increase SME’s awareness of experiential learning opportunities that exist in Ontario.
  3. Increase labour market participation of females, indigenous and disabled persons through experiential learning opportunities.
  4. Make it easier for job-seekers to use Employment Ontario services.
  5. Consider evaluating the success of employment programs based on the number of clients finding long term, sustainable employment.
  6. Revise the journey-person to apprenticeship ratio to create more opportunities for apprentices.
  7. Increase support for apprenticeship consortiums that help SMEs hire apprentices.
  8. Simplify the apprenticeship application process.
  9. Reform the College of Trades so that it can better promote careers in the skilled trades.
  10. Increase awareness of the benefits of obtaining a career in the skilled trades.

Addressing the skills mismatch is a challenge for both government and business.  Small businesses in particular find it challenging to sort through government programs and employment services. Given that the majority of private sector jobs in Ontario are in small business, it’s essential that solutions are aimed at helping this sector find and retain qualified talent.

 

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City seeking views on outdoor beer garden proposal

The City of Sarnia is seeking input on a proposal for the development of an “urban plaza”, which could involve an outdoor beer garden operating out of modified shipping containers in downtown Sarnia. The location being considered is in the parking lot at George and Front streets, which could require moving the lot to another location. 

The idea was inspired by a similar project in Midland, Michigan.

For more details about the proposal, links to staff reports and consultation opportunities visit smartsarnia.com.

Chamber members are encouraged to comment now by completing this survey.

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Note: The consultation period has been extended until October 1, 2017. 

Chamber members are invited to weigh-in on a proposed City of Sarnia bylaw that would protect healthy trees on private properties that are not regulated by the County of Lambton Woodlands Conservation By-law No. 4 of 2012.

If you would like to learn more about the proposed bylaw, how it might impact you and give your feedback to the City, attend a focus group session on Monday, June 26 at 5:00 p.m at Tourism Sarnia Lambton’s office, 1455 Venetian Boulevard, Pt Edward. Please click to RSVP.

Other options to weigh-in include:

  • Attending a public consultation session on Wednesday, June 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Sarnia City Hall.
  • Emailing comments to speakup@slchamber.ca or  trees@sarnia.ca
  • Visiting the Smart Sarnia community engagement web site for more information and to complete a questionnaire http://planning.smartsarnia.com

The full details on the tree by-law can be found HERE.

 

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You know it’s coming—the blistering heat of the summer months. It’s a time many have been waiting months for.

But while those blistering hot summer days offer opportunities to hit the beach or whatever seasonal enjoyment you may prefer, they can also present a safety issue in the workplace, one that should be addressed now.

Warren Clements, an occupational hygienist with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, says everyone in a business has a role to play in keeping employees safe. “Employers, supervisors and workers all can make a difference in their workplace.”

The WSPS offers a 10-step plan of action to help.

For employers

1. Put a policy and procedures in place, based on risk assessment. If heat stress is considered a hazard, consider conducting heat stress measurements and developing a control plan, including engineering controls such as insulating hot surfaces.

2. Train all employees during orientation on the policy and procedures. Include heat stress symptoms, how to prevent it, and what to do if someone starts showing symptoms. Heat stress training is particularly critical for young and new workers, as well as all manual workers. Research conducted by the Institute for Work & Health shows that heat strokes, sunstrokes and other heat illnesses disproportionately affect those on the job less than two months.

Steps for supervisors

3. Acclimatize workers to hot conditions, and watch out for de-acclimatization. Workers can lose their tolerance in only four days.

4. Schedule work in the hottest locations for cooler times of day. Build cool-down breaks into work schedules. Adjust the frequency and duration of breaks as needed. “Taking a break means going to a cooler work area or providing workers with periodic rest breaks and rest facilities in cooler conditions,” says Warren.

5. Get to know your workplace and your workers. “Are there certain jobs at elevated risk? Is anybody working outside today? Keep your eyes and ears open: ‘Is so-and-so looking a little different from how he normally looks? A little more flushed? Sitting down more?’”

6. Ensure ready access to cool water in convenient, visible locations. Workers need to replenish their fluids if they are becoming dehydrated.

7. Supply protective equipment and clothing as needed, such as water-dampened cotton whole-body suits, cooling vests with pockets that hold cold packs, and water-cooled suits.

8. Monitor weather forecasts. “If it’s Tuesday and you know superhot weather is coming on Thursday, ask yourself, ‘Who will be working then? What will they be doing? Who should I watch out for?’”

9. Be extra vigilant in extreme conditions. “Check on workers frequently. If you can’t do this, then assign a temporary pair of eyes to do it for you.”

Steps for workers

10. Watch out for each other and speak up. “People suffering from heat stress don’t always recognize their own symptoms. If anyone’s behaviour is ‘more than usual’ — more sweating, more flushed, hyperventilating — it could be a sign of heat stress.” Other signs could include rashes, muscle cramping, dizziness, fainting, and headaches.

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The Federal Government is accepting applications from eligible applicants interested in receiving funding from the Enabling Accessibility Fund, which is intended to help  businesses to improve accessibility and/or safety for people with disabilities. It does so by supporting the capital costs of renovation, construction and/or retrofit activities and the provision of accessible technologies in workplaces and communities across Canada.

The deadline for the current round of applications is July 6, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

The improvements made must be addressed through renovation, construction and/or retrofit activities or through the provision of accessible technologies, in facilities where people with disabilities work or could work in the future. While proposed projects can address accessibility needs that are specific to one current or future employee, the measures/features to be implemented must be usable/transferable to other current or future employees facing similar accessibility barriers, and must remain with the organization for their use (e.g. an accessible workstation with adjustable counter tops and cabinets with pull-out shelves meets the objective, whereas hearing aids would not).

A full explanation of the program, including a guide that employers can use to determine their eligibility, can be accessed HERE.

 

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It’s just days away and nominees in some 16 categories for this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala (#OBAASL17) are getting ready to put their best foot forward on the stage at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

The event, the most significant in the business calendar for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, takes place Friday, June 16, beginning with a “red carpet” walk in front of the Imperial Theatre and culminating with a spectacular awards ceremony.

It’s sure to be a memorable night, the preparations for which began last December when the call for nominations went out.

Once nominations were received, panels of judges went to work in combing through submissions.

And it all comes together next Friday, June 16 at 7:00 PM.

Be sure to get your tickets NOW—online at www.imperialtheatre.net or by phone at (519) 344-7469. And we’ll see you there!

*parking is available for no charge at Bayside Mall for the OBAA participants!

#OBAASL17

 

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