The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and by extension the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is behind a coalition advocating free trade principles within North America and around the world.

Keep Trade Free is intended to help organizations mobilize at the local, state and federal levels to advocate for freer trade within North American and around the world, as well as to ensure a successful renegotiation of NAFTA for continued economic prosperity for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

While the principles of free trade are well-recognized as producing net benefits for all those involved, current initiatives by the U.S. threaten to destabilize the free flow of goods and services in ways that can already be seen.

The idea that “we are all in this together” is a message that is resonating with Keep Trade Free supporters.

The facts on the table worth considering in any discussion around trade:

  • Canada is the largest trading partner of the U.S., resulting in U.S. companies relying on Canadian buyers to the tune of nearly 300 billion USD.
  • Nearly nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada, which leaves the U.S. at risk of losing two million of those jobs by 2026 with continued tariffs and a failure to reach a new NAFTA agreement.
  • Each American household stands to lose more than 1,000 USD of purchasing power without a renewed NAFTA. With an average household income of 59,000 USD, families will lose up to 20% of what they have to spend after paying all of their bills. That is real pain for the average U.S. family.
  • More than two-thirds of a trillion USD of goods and services cross the U.S.-Canada border every year, which amounts to nearly a quarter of all U.S. trade.
  • The supply chains of U.S. and Canadian companies are so inextricably integrated that it would take companies three to five years to fully restore their suppliers with solely domestic providers. No company can weather that storm, U.S. or Canadian.

Canada and the U.S. have been growing together as neighbours for nearly 200 years, creating shared prosperity for businesses on both sides of the border.

We need to come together with one voice to protect North American companies and jobs because we are already one business community.

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Peninsula, a firm built on the premise that not every firm in need of professional human resources and employee relations advice has access to those services beyond those that may be directly working for them, has partnered with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as a value-added provider.

The firm is introducing BrightHR, a platform that streamlines the process of keeping employee records up to date and in one place.

Peninsula, which was established in 1983 and is based in Toronto, supports more than 50,000 small- to medium-sized businesses worldwide.

Professionals on the Peninsula team understand the needs of a business, providing expert consultations in HR and employment-related matters.

In an arrangement with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce (through an affiliation with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce), a Peninsula consultant will visit your business, conduct a review of your current documents and processes, and recommend solutions for workplace compliance.

Using a tailored suite of documents and processes, Peninsula will recommend solutions for workplace compliance, helping a Chamber member to establish a framework to effectively manage employees.

“You’ll be better equipped to manage everyday HR concerns,” says an overview of Peninsula services.

Even better is a commitment by Peninsula to provide ongoing access to the firm’s guidance and compliance teams.

“It’s not just for emergencies, but also to support any day-to-day matters, too,” according to the firm’s overview information.

The firm understands that every industry has its own unique challenges and is confident that it can resolve these issues.

To connect with Peninsula and get started with a discussion on how it can help, contact the Chamber at (519) 336-2400 and ask for a referral.


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Remember all the spam you got when companies concluded they needed express consent under the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation to keep sending you emails? You would receive an email from a Nigerian prince advising that, while he does not currently have any lucrative commissions on a business transaction for you, he would still like to have your consent to continue sending you email offers. The same thing occurred in Europe leading up to the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25. Similarly, California will be putting into action the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018.

The debate is happening now in Canada. There is pressure on the government to redefine consent, increase penalties for non-compliance and increase transparency obligations, even though the new breach notification regulations under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) do not come into force until November 1, 2018.

This is a reaction to massive security safeguard breaches and declining trust. On the surface, this seems like a good idea—let’s give back control of personal data to the individual. However, the wholesale wresting of personal data away from the companies that collect it shatters the social contract of the service/data exchange that apps are built on and disrupts decades-old established business models.

There are many costs to this new regime in Europe. The obvious one is compliance—acquiring the technology to successfully respond to individual requests for data transparency, retooling for data portability and extracting personal data across multiple platforms.

The traditional business model is also affected. The idea that an app was free was never accurate—if you’re not paying for something, then you’re the product, as the saying goes. Disrupting this model could increase the cost of apps and other digital services or platforms and stifle innovation.

Data and the techniques and technologies employed to collect and analyze it will allow us to solve some of the world’s most pressing economic, social and environmental problems. Data is now the engine of economic growth and prosperity. Countries that promote data availability and use it for societal good and economic development will lead the fourth industrial revolution and give their citizens a better quality of life. But to seize this opportunity, people and businesses need to be able to share data with one another.

Finally, regulatory overreach could disrupt the free flow of information, which is one of the digital age’s greatest benefits. For instance, the Los Angeles Times has responded to GDPR by cutting access to its website in most European countries—something that goes against the basics of the internet.

Ironically, none of these new rules will have any impact on how data is protected. Almost half of IT decision makers in the EU note that cyber attackers will still find a way to access almost anything they want. More needs to be done to go after those who cause the most harm, such as those who engage in cybercrime and fraud. Government agencies should follow the money and prosecute those who commit fraud online.

The right framework for Canada’s data economy is one that both creates trust and incentivizes innovation. In this new world, we cannot ignore the role that companies that are yet to be created will play—both as innovators and wealth creators. Canada’s framework for the data economy must help SMEs start up, grow and become world leaders in the digital space.

For more information, contact Scott Smith, director, Intellectual Property and Innovation Policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has updated its Municipal Election 2018 page to include important dates, resources and official lists of candidates throughout the area.

Look for the information to be updated as the election nears.

In the meantime, members are encouraged to check out the @sarniaelections Facebook page for information on Sarnia candidates, a forum that provides highlights and the opportunity to ask questions.

Live in Sarnia? Check out the City’s website for a series of videos explaining how electronic voting works.

Still have questions? You can also attend one of two public information sessions that will take place at Sarnia City Hall on Wednesday, September 19 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.


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Last week, members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Trade Corridor Task Force met with members of the St. Clair Economic Development Alliance to look for ways each group can continue to promote trade in the region.

With major highways—I-69, I-94, and Highways 402 and 401—bisecting Ontario and Michigan, the opportunities for communities to attract business investment and create jobs can’t be overlooked.

As one of the key points discussed, the Trade Corridor Task Force on the Canadian side of the border is in the process of applying for Foreign Trade Zone designation, which St. Clair County has already secured.

The two groups plan to continue meeting and building on this important binational relationship.

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We’re entering one of the most exciting times on the Chamber calendar and starting Monday, August 20, general admission tickets for the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala go on sale at the Imperial Theatre box office.

The event, which takes place Friday, October 12, 2018, is seen as one of the highlights and this year takes place in proximity to Business Week.

Right now, dozens of businesses and individuals have been notified of their nomination to one or more of the 16 awards categories. They are busy assembling their online submissions for the judging process.

But for what is expected to be a sold-out event, getting one of the “best seats in the house” is about to begin.

We recommend not putting it off!

Contact the Imperial Theatre box office today—tickets will be available online through the Imperial Theatre website:

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Five years in business cannot go unnoticed! For that reason alone, Alton Farms Estate Winery has rebranded itself and is throwing a two-day party—Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19—to which everyone is invited. For these proud members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, this will be a celebration to remember.

With the first 50 people each day receiving a $5 gift certificate, the Altons (Marc and Anne) are putting on a show that includes live music by Paul Garrett and Sue MacIntyre.

Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue Rehabilitation & Education Centre will be there with their rescued wildlife, showcasing the rehabilitation of wild animals – a wonderful experience for young and old alike. Visitors are invited to hop on the hay wagon and tour the vineyards, and learn how wine is made.

Blind wine tastings will be part of the fun, a great way to learn and appreciate what goes into making an exceptional wine. Relax on the patio and enjoy a glass of one of Alton Farms Estate Winery’s VQA wines with a slice of pizza from their wood-fired oven. A BBQ will be on for those with an appetite for hamburgers and hotdogs and hourly draws and fun games will also take place throughout the afternoon.

The official unveiling will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday with both Anne and Marc offering friendly words of thanks followed by our distinguished guests: Matthias Oppenlaender, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario, MP Marilyn Gladu and their other wonderful friends.

The festivities will also include hors d’oeuvres with wine and music by El Camino.

Tickets for the Saturday Reception are $20 and are available on Eventbrite. Follow the link on their website.  Please note that all the afternoon activities are free.


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While members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be represented at the upcoming Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Thunder Bay (September 22-24, 2018), an opportunity to provide input into various issues that will be debated will come in the next few weeks.

Local Chamber officials (staff and board members) will be reviewing some 70 policies ahead of the AGM.

As part of that process, members are invited to weigh in with their thoughts and opinion.

If you’d like to be part of those discussions, contact Monica Shepley, the Chamber’s manager of advocacy and policy development.

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Members and guests of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be getting an “inside look” at the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport as part of the Wednesday, August 15 Business After Five–with a chance to win a voucher worth $8,000 for travel for two anywhere Air Canada flies.

The event is being promoted by the Chamber and the City of Sarnia, which is hosting the Business After 5 event.

“This is a great opportunity for the City to gain insight as to what our members are looking for when it comes to improvements at the airport,” notes Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva, who is pictured with Clare Webb (left) of Scottsdale Aviation and Daniel Byskal, Sarnia’s assistant solicitor and risk manager. “Thanks to the initiative of members of our Airport Revitalization Task Force and the subsequent approval of the City, we’re able to bring this event to our members.”

The Business After 5 event will take place in one of the airport hangars, with special shuttles taking attendees to the airport terminal for tours throughout the event.

Representatives of Air Canada, which provides regular service from the airport, will be in attendance,  as well as representatives from Scottsdale Aviation, the local company contracted to operate the City-owned airport.

Clare Webb, who owns Scottsdale Aviation, the operator of the City-owned airport, will also be present.

The August 15 Business After 5 will be the first of several opportunities to gather input, a process that was announced in April.

Early ideas for improving the airport’s operations include work on runways and a refresh of the terminal building but the Chamber’s Airport Revitalization Task Force will be working to coordinate initiatives.

In the meantime, Air Canada is expected to announce a strategy for area airports, including ways it could reduce last-minute flight cancellations, one of the biggest complaints made by local travellers.

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The Chamber recently co-hosted an informal “roundtable” of local business representatives organized to provide input on business issues to two Federal Opposition Members of Parliament, including Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen and Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu.

“We were rolling out a ‘defend local jobs’ initiative across the country, an opportunity to hear from local job creators on issues such as NAFTA,” said Gladu. “Pairing up with the Chamber seemed like a natural fit.”

There was significant representation from the local manufacturing sector as well as the petrochemical industry and the conversation began by talking about recent government initiatives, including a carbon tax.

A summary of the key points offered by Chamber members in attendance included the need to:

  • Eliminate uncertainty
  • Use the U.S. government’s stance on trade being a security issue to get Canadian pipelines built
  • Reduce taxes to a level that is competitive with the U.S.
  • Settle NAFTA negotiations
  • Encourage trade with other countries
  • Break down provincial barriers
  • Promote the $2 billion in new support programs established by the federal government to help workers and businesses in the steel, aluminum and manufacturing industries.
  • Promote Sarnia-Lambton’s bio-hybrid industry
  • Provide universal child care to free up money so it can be reinvested in the economy
  • Produce more Canadian-made goods
  • Support and move forward on the Trans Pacific Partnership and CETA (the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreements) and increase trade with countries besides the U.S.
  • Make a compelling case to invest in Ontario by being more competitive on environmental regulations, energy costs and taxes
  • Increase recognition of Sarnia-Lambton as a significant international gateway and our contribution to the national economy when it comes to trade
  • Scrap the carbon tax
  • Train workers for the skills and jobs that our economy needs
  • Build trust in politicians and be less critical
  • Invest in capital

Gladu said, in review of the roundtable, that there is a need to better communicate the benefit of existing laws, including one that allows Canadian businesses that import raw materials from the U.S. to receive rebates on any tariffs after the finished products are exported.



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