On Friday, May 8th, MPP Bailey and Minister Sarkaria held a small business roundtable via Zoom to check in on the SME’s in Lambton County. During the meeting, the Chamber shared initial results from the Sarnia-Lambton COVID-19 Business Impact Survey as they relate to Ontario’s Small Business Recovery and Success Strategy. While a detailed report will be released in the near future, we wanted to give you an overview of some of the findings (the survey had 292 respondents and of those respondents, 85% have fewer than 20 employees):

Overall:

  • 77% are worried customers will reduce or delay spending even after COVID-19 is over.
  • 51% of respondents are small businesses with fewer than five employees.
  • 44% of respondents are new start ups or a small business entity.
  • 36% currently do not have the cash flow to pay monthly bills (wages, rent, etc.).
  • 36% are worried that there is not enough government support to ensure that they have an income.

Both MPP Bailey and Minister Sarkaria asked for feedback regarding provincial support measures. If you have feedback to share, please contact prabmeet.sarkaria@pc.ola.org and copy info@slchamber.ca.

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The Locally Lambton map is a collaboration between the Lambton Federation of Agriculture and the many local producers throughout the county. The map was created to highlight tourism attractions and food producers to facilitate the country experience. As social distancing regulations start to shift and more options for shopping open up, make sure you remember to keep local options in mind to support Sarnia-Lambton’s economy. Check out their interactive map that features fairs, breweries, wineries, orchards, markets, nurseries, meats & fish, fruits & vegetables, and more!

To browse the map, click here

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The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Program is to be extended beyond the current June 6 cut-off date. CEWS supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protects the jobs Canadians depend on by covering 75% of an employee’s wages – up to $847 per week. Trudeau announced the extension of the CEWS program on Friday, May 8th, and said more details will be arriving this week.The federal government hopes that this will allow employers to bring back employees that may have been laid off due to COVID-19, or to keep employees working that might have had pay cuts.

To read the full statement, click here.

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On May 5th, the federal government announced $252 million in funding to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors. Additionally, Prime Minister Trudeau announced multiple initiatives directed to helping the agri-food sector. The following statement issued by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO, Perrin Beatty, was made in response to this funding:

“While agricultural businesses work tirelessly to ensure that Canadians continue to see their store shelves stocked, producers and processors alike are increasingly concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on Canada’s supply chains.”

He continues by saying the support announced by the government is a first step, but they fall short of what the sector needs. Inevitably the sector will require more assistance in the future as nearly ⅓ of businesses in the sector have reported they can only successfully last for up to two months without revenues. 

Additionally, the seasonal nature of the agri-food industry is not being addressed, with many existing programs only applicable until June.

To read the full article, click here.

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The Lambton Federation of Agriculture & Frameworks Media Inc. share their one minute video titled “This is Farming in Lambton County”. The video highlights the narrator’s perception growing up on a farm and discussing all the ways a farmer’s work is never done. Their dependence on the weather often requires them to work long hours, taking care of animals when their own mothers can’t, and quite literally putting all their eggs in one basket. Throughout the video, there are beautiful images of farming families, fields, and the work that goes into farming.

To watch the full video, click here.

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The Lambton Federation of Agriculture (LFA) donated $1,000 to the Inn of the Good Shepherd and $1,000 split among rural food banks in Lambton County. The LFA recognizes the help these shelters need during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those spread throughout the County. There are 12 banks spread throughout the county that provide food items on an emergency basis to individuals and families in need.  

President of the Lambton Federation of Agriculture, Gary Martin, is also a director on the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce board. Gary farms 250 acres of soybeans and wheat which he operates by himself. We are proud to highlight Gary as a key player in our local agriculture business. Thanks for all your hard work, Gary!

For the full statement, click here

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The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) created a website called “Six by Sixteen” that aims to ensure the next generation knows how to make healthy, nutritious food choices. Six by Sixteen hopes to ensure food literacy in young people as they learn to plan and prepare six nutritious, locally sourced meals by the time they reach sixteen years of age. Their website features cooking lessons, resources to find local food sources, and education on how to make healthy food choices.

The OFA wants to see how the youth in your life utilize their cooking skills. Please like and share the website, and encourage youth to share their pictures of cooking with the OFA by emailing kaylee.coverdale@ofa.on.ca 

For more information on the initiative, click here to visit the new website.

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In response to the 2020 crop season being impacted by COVID-19 labour shortage, a new initiative called “Help Canada Grow” aims to help connect capable labourers with farms in need of workers. The website’s goal is to facilitate networking throughout the Canadian food industry and hopefully avoid the pending food shortage crisis. There are two areas of the website, one for individuals who want to help, and one for farmers to share that they are in need of help.

If you or someone you know is interested, there are many farms hiring immediately, and the process does not require a resume, only a full commitment. Click here for more details or to apply.

 

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Steve Paikin of “The Agenda” speaks with Dusty Zamecnik (EZ Grow Farms), Keith Currie (president of Ontario Federation of Agriculture), and Crystal Mackay (CEO of Loft 32) about COVID-19’s impacts on the Agri-Sector. Dusty discusses his biggest concerns are ensuring products can be produced for the shelf in July, and having enough staff to complete the work on time. Crystal acknowledges that most farmers hold an optimistic outlook, yet there is still a lot up in the air regarding livestock numbers and planting the same crops. For example, Keith has altogether decided not to plant flowers due to the economic situation many consumers find themselves in. The 30-minute interview covers topics such as: How are farmers being affected by pandemic regulations?, What are their predictions for the upcoming year?, and what other trends they are noticing during COVID-19.

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The Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be holding their Annual General Meeting (AGM) next Wednesday, May 13th from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. During the AGM, reports from the past and incoming chair will be shared, Annette Little will present the 2019 financials, new directors and executive committee members will be elected, and retiring directors will be honoured. This meeting will be held virtually and is open to all members.

To register, click here.

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