Red tape is often cited as a major  burden for businesses in many sectors.  For chemical-related industries, the provincial government is inviting businesses to identify regulations that are unclear, outdated or unnecessarily costly.

This is part of their “Red Tape Challenge”.   It is an opportunity to voice your opinion on unnecessary red tape that impacts your business and  it has the potential for benefiting the chemical manufacturing sector, one of both historical and ongoing influence for Sarnia-Lambton  business.

The chemical sector was responsible for shipments of $16.2 billion in 2016 and the government hopes to use feedback it receives to tackle unnecessary regulation, building on previous efforts to reduce bureaucratic waste.  This will make it easier for businesses to interact with government, innovate, and grow without jeopardizing standards that protect the public interest.

Submissions to the government can be made prior to September 30, 2017  by visiting www.ontario.ca/RedTapeChallenge.  At that site, visitors can review current regulations and suggest improvements.

 

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With every tax increase, the hands of Canadian business have no choice but to dig deeper and deeper in the same pocket. Initially, these tax hikes may not appear significant, but overtime, the burden accumulates drawing on the last straw. Canada, you’re a pricey place to do business. In this edition of  5 Minutes for Business, Hendrik Brakel, Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, considers how the high costs of doing business in Canada affect the country’s competitiveness. These concerns were expressed in a recent letter to the Prime Minister, composed by our President and CEO and his provincial and territorial colleagues.

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What do you think of Sarnia’s proposed tree by-law? Not sure what’s happening and want to know more? The Chamber will host an information and consultation session on Thursday, September 14 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at 556 Christina St. N.   If you would like to attend, let us know.

Members are encouraged to attend and learn more about how the proposed tree by-law would impact property owners and our natural environment. Attendees will also have the chance to share their opinion directly with city staff who have been tasked by council to draft this by-law.

For more information on this, check out these resources:

The current draft of the by-law to regulate trees on private property

Your Guide to Sarnia’s Tree By-law

Chamber’s opinion of the tree by-law

City of Sarnia’s public consultation website www.smartsarnia.com

Don’t forget, members can always contact the Chamber with their concerns about this or other issues by emailing speakup@slchamber.ca.

 

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Policy Alert: Finance Canada Is Considering Major Changes to How Corporations Are Taxed

The Department of Finance Canada is considering major changes to how corporations are taxed. The proposed rules could have a significant impact on many Canadian businesses: potentially raising taxes, increasing the administrative burden on SMEs and heightening the impact on family-run businesses.

On July 18, Finance Canada launched a consultation on how “tax-planning strategies involving corporations are being used to gain unfair tax advantages.” The document contains proposed policies to close these “loopholes.” There are four key changes that will affect business:

  1. Sprinkling income using private corporations: The government wants to tighten rules to prevent a business owner from unfairly transferring income to family members who are subject to lower personal tax rates. In certain circumstances, owners would have to demonstrate that wages and dividend payments are “reasonable.”
  2. Multiplying the Capital Gains Exemption: When an individual sells a small business, the first $850,000 of capital gain is exempt from taxes. The government wants to prevent tax planning structures that enable multiple family members to use their exemptions.
  3. Reducing the tax deferral advantage on portfolio investment inside a corporation: Currently, an owner can accumulate portfolio earnings inside a corporation and pay corporate income tax rates (which are generally much lower than personal rates). The owner defers paying personal income or dividend taxes until the money is taken out of the business. The government is considering alternatives that would reduce this tax advantage.
  4. Converting a private corporation’s regular income into capital gains:Income is normally paid out of a private corporation in the form of salary or dividends that are taxed at the owner’s personal income tax rate. In contrast, when a business is sold, it is taxed as a capital gain, where only one-half of capital gains are included in income, resulting in a significantly lower tax rate on income that is converted from dividends to capital gains. The government wants to tighten the rules to prevent certain tax planning structures, but it is open to more favourable treatment for genuine family business transfers.

The Chamber is preparing to write to Finance Canada. Should you wish to provide input, please email us at speakup@slchamber.ca.  In particular, we are looking for detailed examples and cases of how a specific small business will be affected by the changes. We feel concrete examples will be most effective in making our case for easing the changes.

Click here to view the consultation documents released by Finance Canada.

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Media release

July 27, 2017 – The local business community says the City is barking up the wrong tree on one proposed by-law and creating a uncompetitive disadvantage to farmers and businesses with another.

Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO, said the proposed Tree By-law is flawed in many respects.  In particular, the Chamber is concerned with private property rights, increasing costs and added red tape. “This is a potentially costly measure that needs to be rethought,” said de Silva. “There are just too many problems and circumstances that haven’t been factored into the drafting and those need to be corrected.”

The second by-law with which the Chamber objects is one that would require property owners in areas without bus service to pay a transit levy.  It would add extra costs for businesses and farmers who will not have access to transit service. “We think there should be a thorough cost analysis of how cost savings would actually measure up against the actual burden that residents and business owners will face under this by-law,” said de Silva.

The letters from the Chamber are available online—HERE for the Tree By-law and HERE for the Transit Levy By-law.

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Town Hall explored pros and cons of Bill 148

On Tuesday, July 25 the Chamber hosted a town hall meeting on Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, new legislation that proposes sweeping changes to labour and employment regulations. It also proposes a 32% increase of the minimum wage rate by 2019.

Approximately 80 people attended the event, including Chamber members, the general public, a senior policy advisor for the Minister Responsible for Small Business, MPP Bob Bailey and Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan. The event started with a presentation of Bill 148 by labour lawyer Susan Houston, followed by comments by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s VP of Policy and Government Relations, Karl Baldauf and the President of the Sarnia and District Labour Council, Jason McMichael. A question and answer period followed.

Bill 148 presentation by Susan Houston, Matthew, Dinsdale and Clark LLP  (link to be posted soon)

Keep Ontario Working presentation by Karl Baldauf, Ontario Chamber of Commerce

For more information check out Your Guide to Bill 48 and keepontarioworking.ca 

From left to right: Susan Houston, Karl Baldauf, Jason McMichael

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Ontario’s labour and employment laws are changing. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has taken a leadership position among Ontario’s industry and sector associations to bring together a broad coalition called the Keep Ontario Working (KOW) group.

They want to know how Bill 148 will affect you. Share your story with them and contact your MPP directly.

The KOW group will be releasing a full economic impact analysis of Bill 148 and report later this summer. Learn more about how you can Keep Ontario Working and ensure that government is improving legislation to support workers’ rights, create jobs and grow the economy.

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Last year, at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s AGM in Regina, chambers from across the country voted to pass a resolution submitted by Sarnia-Lambton that called on the federal government to support the development of a High Frequency Rail (HFR) project by VIA Rail. The resolution has been slowly gaining traction.

VIA Rail’s proposal, which is gaining support from Chambers and municipalities, is based on improving service in Canada’s busiest transportation corridor (Southwestern Ontario to Quebec) by running more traditional trains that can run up to 160 km/hr, more frequently. It would better serve smaller communities like Sarnia-Lambton by adding more comfortable and more frequent connections throughout the region.

The mayors of two Quebec municipalities—Drummondville and Trois-Rivieres—along with their respective Chambers, have announced their joint support for the HFR. Following that the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus, which represents 13 counties that cover an area from Cobourg to the Quebec border, advocating for 750,000 residents in Eastern Ontario, has also come out in favour of the HFR proposal. Since then, municipal councils in Eastern Ontario like Peterborough and Leeds and Grenville have endorsed the idea.

“This news is encouraging for the future of transportation infrastructure in Canada,” said Shirley de Silva, President and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s also an example of how issues of local importance to the business community can be successfully leveraged through our membership in the greater Chamber community. That’s exactly what happened through our proposal last September and it’s one that is gaining support throughout the region, of which we are a part.”

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce developed the resolution in support of local efforts by RAIL—Rail Advocacy in Lambton.

 

 

 

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As a business person and Chamber member, you have probably benefited from meeting clients at a Business After Five or learned from other members about changes to government regulations. You may have saved money on merchant services and office supplies or had lunch with the Premier of Ontario. Now you also have the opportunity to learn from the chamber network about how to grow your business and increase sales beyond the Canada/U.S. border.

The Global Business Opportunities Community (GBOC) is a network of Sarnia Lambton Chamber members and partners who are experts in global exporting. Their experience includes mentoring businesses, developing an export plan, understanding government funding opportunities, marketing your company, participating in trade missions and much more.

GBOC is inviting interested companies to contact them if they have are considering exporting as part of their business plan for the first time, or if they are wondering how to increase their sales abroad. They can do so by emailing gboc@slchamber.ca.

By reaching out to GBOC, Chamber members will receive free support from this network of chamber members with real-world experience in exporting as well as senior government bodies (Global Affairs Canada -Trade Commissioner’s Office, Export Development Canada, Ministry of Economic Development and Growth), business accelerators (TechAlliance, Sarnia Lambton Research Park and Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership) and local partners the City of Sarnia, County of Lambton and Lambton College.

GBOC is in a unique position to facilitate conversations that can set the stage for future business beyond the borders. Shirley de Silva, President and CEO of the Chamber, said the initiative is one that speaks to the overall development of the business community and membership in GBOC reflects that mission. “We have resources in our membership that are ready to help prospective exporters and we’ve already identified a few prospects with whom we’re talking about how we can help in that regard,” said de Silva.

John Wood, GBOC’s Chair for close to two years, echoes de Silva’s assessment. “Exporting may seem like a daunting task, but we believe there are a significant number of companies here, many of them very entrepreneurial, who would find this business building activity to take them to an entirely new level, all with a little extra help when it comes to identifying the steps required to succeed,” he said.

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