Tuesday, July 18, 2017—The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has taken a “too much, too fast” stance on the Ontario Government’s Bill 148 in a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance Economic Affairs as part of consultations on the bill.
The proposed legislation—formally known as the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs At, 2017—will “have profound negative consequences for Ontario, including job losses, inflation, and business closures,” said the letter, which was sent to the Standing Committee following a consultative session held in London, the location nearest to Sarnia-Lambton, on Monday, July 17.
The local Chamber will host its own Town Hall Meeting to discuss Bill 148 on Tuesday, July 25 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion, 286 Front Street N., Sarnia.
The Town Hall Meeting will feature Susan Houston, a labour lawyer and partner with Matthew Dinsdale Clark LLP in Sarnia; Jason McMichael, president of the Sarnia and District Labour Council; and Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Government Relations with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
It is free to attend, open to the public, and coffee will be provided. Those wishing to attend are asked to pre-register online at www.slchamber.ca.
In particular, the Chamber cites a 23 per cent increase in the provincial minimum wage, with a total of 32 per cent increase in 18 months.
“By comparison, Seattle has allowed 4 years for a 36 per cent wage increase,” the Chamber letter says. “How are small businesses expected to offset such a rapid increase in costs?”
Chamber officials say many businesses have said they will be forced to increase prices and cut costs, including jobs.
“Some fear the reforms will force them to close their businesses entirely if they can’t adjust quickly enough,” said the letter.
The letter points out that other changes proposed, including equal pay for temporary and part time workers and scheduling, “will carry significant new costs for employers.”
The Chamber is urging the Government to commission an independent economic impact analysis before third reading of the bill, referencing the fact that the “Keep Ontario Working” coalition of business sector associations is commissioning its own analysis.
“We strongly urge you to review (that analysis) when it is completed in August,” the Chamber letter said.
The letter in full, including comments from local business owners, can be seen HERE.
For more details, read “Your Guide to Bill 148“
With the formal notification of the U.S. Congress’s intention to initiate negotiations related to the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada is undertaking what it is calling a “broad consultation process with Canadians.”
The government is particularly interested in hearing about what aspects or elements of NAFTA have worked well for Canadians and should remain “as is” and where changes or improvements could be desirable.
Businesses are able to provide feedback through an online consultation form. The link to the form can be found HERE.
The Ontario government is inviting participants to respond to the proposed changes to the Consumer Protection Act, 2002. These changes would implement door-to-door marketing and contracting restrictions passed in Bill 59; the Putting Consumers First Act (Consumer Protection Statute Amendment); 2017. The government is open to comments on the proposed changes and looking for input on the transition process for businesses.
The Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) and its member local distribution companies have launched the Ontario Electricity Customer Panel. The initiative is a first-ever online opinion panel exclusively drawn from electricity customers in the province who have agreed to participate. The goal is to establish an online community so electricity customers can express their opinions on such public policies as pricing, conservation and local power generation that can inform relevant decision makers. To join the panel, or to find out more information, visit www.YourVoiceHasPower.com.
As of July 1, 2017 all organizations will need to ensure they have obtained the proper consent before sending any commercial electronic messages. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s expert on Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws (CASL), Scott Smith, discusses what businesses need to know.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour, through Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, wants to help businesses protect their workers from noise.
This comes after a new noise regulation that was passed in July 2016 that requires employers to follow a “hierarchy of controls” to protect workers. Engineering controls and work practices come before personal protective equipment (such as earplugs and ear muffs), the reasoning being that controlling noise everywhere eliminates the reliance on workers to wear protection.
How big of a deal is this?
One in five adults aged 19 to 79 already have mild hearing loss or more in at least one ear, according to experts. Chances are, with time and continued exposure their hearing will worsen.
It’s one reason the Ministry of Labour has launched the initiative, which will run through March 31, 2018. During this time, inspectors will be looking at how—and how well—employers are protecting workers from noise.
4 steps you can take to prepare:
1. Determine if your workers are exposed to high levels of noise. Be sure to pinpoint the sources of noise and who’s going to be affected where.
2. Conduct a risk assessment. Performing a rudimentary assessment can be done by walking around and listening. You can also rent a sound meter if you’re looking for preliminary numbers. Apps for a smartphone can also be used as a screening tool, although they should be used cautiously and not relied upon for complete accuracy. If an app provides a number that hovers around 85 decibels (the current occupational limit over eight hours), call in an occupational hygienist to do a proper survey.
3. Determine the best way to protect employees. This step includes starting with engineering controls. Can you reduce noise at the source or along the path of transmission? Next, look at work practices such as doing any repairs that might make machines less noisy. Finally, consider Personal Protective Equipment if other controls are not possible.
4. Ensure your controls are working. Implement a surveillance program that includes audiometric testing to make sure people are using hearing protection correctly and not suffering hearing loss.
More information on the issue of hearing protection is available at www.wsps.ca/noise.
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An organization dedicated to improving internet broadband service throughout the area is encouraging businesses and farmers, especially those with membership in the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, to participate in a survey designed to help them determine where to invest funding.
The survey can be found online at www.swiftnetwork.ca/survey. Those without internet access can complete the survey through a nearby Lambton County Library branch.
SWIFT—Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology Inc.—is a project initiated by the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus in 2011.
At a July 5, 2017 meeting, Lambton County Council entered into a partnership agreement with SWIFT that allows the County to benefit from significant funding from municipal partners and senior levels of government. A combined funding of $180 million for Southwestern Ontario was made to SWIFT from the federal and provincial governments. A portion of that funding will go to projects in Lambton County.