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 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


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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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Lisa, Founder of Limn Social, has a passion for helping non-profits and small businesses. She is down to earth and strives to figure out what businesses need, where they can save money, and where they can make more! To do this, she draws from her experience as executive director, IT technician, and public relations director, as well as her degree in New Media and a Certificate in Public Relations. She is constantly taking courses and learning to keep up to date with new marketing techniques and is currently working towards an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship.

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What are the most important issues facing your business? 

Let us know now by taking our policy survey.  The results will help determine which policy issues the Chamber will work on in 2017/18 year.

By investing just a few minutes, you’ll be making sure that our advocacy efforts on behalf of businesses and the entire community are focused on the issues that are most impactful.  We know how time constrained people are today, but this is an investment that will pay  dividends throughout the next year and beyond.  The benefits of having our collective voice heard will be immeasurable.

By fully understanding the issues that are most important to members, the Chamber will be better able to advocate on members’ behalf here in Sarnia-Lambton, at Queen’s Park and Ottawa.

Your input is a critical element in our ongoing advocacy process.

The survey is now closed – thank you for participating.


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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  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

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


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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  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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