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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The government has proposed a radical tax overhaul that would impose (1) a new tax on investment income in a corporation and (2) tough new rules for compensation in family businesses.

In this special edition of 5 Minutes for Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Hendrik Brakel, Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, looks at what is driving the government’s new crackdown on private corporations.

Read 5 Minutes for Business.

If this concerns you, contact MP Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia-Lambton) or MP Bev Shipley ( Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) to tell her/him the government is proposing to hammer business with tax changes that will hurt families and punish entrepreneurs.

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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce ramped up its support for VIA Rail’s plan to build a dedicated passenger rail line connecting Southwestern Ontario to cities along the Windsor-Quebec corridor—a plan that the Sarnia Lambton Chamber has been pushing for along with Rail Advocacy in Lambton since they brought the issue to the attention of the Canadian Chamber in 2016.

If implemented, the plan would help drive our regional economy, reduce traffic congestion and take 2.4 million cars off the road while reducing harmful carbon emissions.

In “5 Minutes for Business,” Hendrik Brakel, senior director of Economic, Financial and Tax Policy at the Canadian Chamber, discusses the idea of tailoring infrastructure spending to areas of the country where bottlenecks exist rather than evenly spreading the spending (which is taxpayer funded). “We need to prioritize investments in transportation capacity where they’re needed most,” writes Brakel.

In his piece, Brakel says another example of the right kind of infrastructure spending is in improvements to broadband coverage, especially in rural and remote areas. There is also a need to improve tax incentives.

A third major priority is the building of export trade corridors, an example of which is the Oversized Load Corridor project, which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber also advocates for. Unfortunately, writes Brakel in his “5 Minutes” essay, only about 13 percent of proposed federal spending is going to trade and transportation. “That’s why we’re excited about the potential of the Canadian Infrastructure Bank,” writes Brakel, with the VIA Rail proposal being specifically mentioned as an example of “what the Infrastructure Bank should be doing.”

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As a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, you  have the opportunity to provide input regarding the pursuit of economic growth for the area.

SLEP (Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership)  is reaching out to our membership for input as it enters the research phase in the development of a strategic plan, one that it hopes will improve the quality of life, income and living standards for all who live and work in Lambton County.

The survey, which opens to Chamber members and others on August 14, 2017, can be found at www.SLEPstratplan.ca. The five-minute survey will stay open through September 10, 2017.

We encourage Lambton residents, businesses and organizations from all sectors to express their views on the economic future of their community.

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Bill 148 will put 185,000 jobs at risk and increase the cost of consumer goods and services by $1,300 per household starting in 2018: study

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOW), in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, released the first and only independent economic impact analysis of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act. Conducted by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), the study revealed that if the legislation is implemented as currently drafted, there will be significant, sudden and sizable uncertainty for Ontario jobs, economy and communities.

The study concludes that these vast, unprecedented reforms will put about 185,000 jobs at risk in the first two years, greatly impacting Ontario’s most vulnerable workers.

Data from the economic impact analysis shows:

  • $23 billion hit to business over the next two years alone
  • 185,000 Ontario jobs will be at immediate risk over the next two years
    • 30,000 of the jobs at risk are youth under 25
    • 96,000 employees at risk are expected to be women
  • 50 per cent increase to inflation for this year and the foreseeable future. The cost of everyday consumer goods and services will go up by $1,300 per household on average each and every year
  • The Ontario government would need to borrow $440 million more to cover the increases in new costs from this legislation. If the government were to provide offsets to businesses, as they have indicated, the province’s treasury will take a bigger hit
  • Municipalities will be forced to increase employee wages by $500 million without additional offsetting revenues

Given the scale of impact and pace of change, government offsets will not be enough. Amendments to the first reading of Bill 148 are due this Wednesday.

Since Bill 148 was introduced in June, the KOW coalition has called on the government to conduct an economic impact analysis to fully understand how the legislation will change Ontario’s economy.  With the government unwilling to do so, the report released today represents the first and only independent economic impact analysis of this legislation.

For more details on the economic analysis, click visit keepontarioworking.ca

 

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You started your business for a reason — probably the same reason that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, roll up your sleeves, and get the job done.  Don’t keep your story a secret! Use your unique point of view as a way to stand out from the competition and get closer to your customers.

To celebrate Small Business Week, take a moment to remind your customers and supporters why you do what you do. Email me your story (150 words max) – it might get selected to be published in our  weekly newsletters and posted to our Social Media! Please note that this opportunity is open to Chamber Members only – Thanks!

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