Sometimes it’s good to “re-boot” and that’s what we are doing with its Membership Perks program.

Thanks to our friends at Starlight Casino Point Edward, who have generously provided the physical cards for this program,  Membership Perks is ready to take the first steps in building a database of discounts offered by Chamber members.

Here’s how the Membership Perks Card program  will work:

—Chamber members will be given one card for every individual employee wishing to take advantage of discounts made available by fellow members.

—Members interested in participating in this program are invited to contact Gail Ann Bondar, manager of Member Engagement and Services, who will then add them to the Membership Perks Card listing, with any discounts or special offers available to fellow Chamber members.

—When a member goes to a business enrolled in the Membership Perks program, the discount or special offer will be applied.

“It’s that simple for building your business with the help of a fellow Chamber member,”  said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber.

The Membership Perks Card launch is scheduled for July 15th, 2019.

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When it comes to changing attitudes around mental health in Canada, one of the key initiatives promises to be one that involves the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and local affiliates such as the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Partnering with Canada’s Members of Parliament—including Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu—a series of events intended to begin the conversation around mental health and wellness began Friday with an event held at the Sarnia Riding Club.

Special guest speaker at Friday’s noon-hour event was Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, an agency funded by Health Canada that leads the development and dissemination of innovative programs and tools to support the mental health and wellness of Canadians.

Bradley, whose background is in nursing and public health administration, spoke to a group of about 40 at the Riding Club, emphasizing not only the importance of mental health awareness but how critical it is to take action.

“We need to turn ‘Let’s Talk’ into ‘Let’s Act,’” she said.

“If someone had a broken leg, we wouldn’t expect them to ignore that physical condition. And if someone has diabetes, we certainly wouldn’t say they just had a lazy pancreas.”

A number of Chamber directors were in attendance at Friday’s event. Pictured are, from left, Chamber third vice chair Kathleen Mundy, Chamber president and CEO Shirley de Silva, Louise Bradley, MP Marilyn Gladu, and Chamber past-chair Charles Fisher.

Bradley, as part of her presentation, challenged those in the room, including Bruce Hein, franchise owner of Express Employment Professionals, who also spoke briefly, about the need to examine what a healthy workplace should look like.

“We need to have expectations that are clearly set, with workloads that are appropriately managed, and an environment where civility and respect are encouraged throughout,” said Bradley.

Referencing her own personal story, one that included growing up in a number of foster homes, Bradley has said publicly that “It was only much later in life that I realized these adverse childhood experiences bred trauma… a word, and a concept, I didn’t know growing up.”

Eventually hospitalized at the time, Bradley found herself under the care of “a wonderful psychiatrist.”

On Friday, she said what was unusual in her experience was that she received any help at all.

Bradley said today she is committed to seeing that level of care for those experiencing mental health issues changed for the better.

“We have a long way to go,” said Bradley, adding that initiatives toward a more healthy workplace, one that’s free of bullying and the stigma that has existed around mental health are making a difference.

In Canada, some half a million people miss work every week due to a mental health problem or illness.

“What’s important to note is that it’s not the same half a million people every week,” said Bradley.

“We need to be reminded that we can all make a difference when it comes to improving mental health. This signature mental health event is meant to remind us that we can all make a difference. Whether it’s an employee having the courage to speak up about workplace bullying or a stretched-too-thin manager rethinking his or her approach, we all stand to benefit when workplace wellness is the rule—not the exception.”

MP Gladu said creating space for positive discussion on mental health issues at work will result in a better workforce and better communities across Canada.

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It won’t be that long (trust us) before this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night comes around—even though Friday, October 18, 2019 may seem like it’s in the distance.

But just like that birthday or anniversary gift that “you’ll get to,” there’s no time like the present when it comes to nominating the companies or individuals that are deserving of an award in one of the 16 categories that make the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards our signature event, which is now in its 30th year.

Our thanks continue to go out to Libro Credit Union, our title sponsor. Pictured are Cathy Thompson (far left) and Jamie Carson (both of Libro), and Shirley de Silva at the launch of the nomination process that took place in May at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia (where the October 18, 2019 event will take place).

Nominations officially began in early May and nominations are flowing in.

Even so, there is a deadline for nominations—FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 2019.

Our suggestion? Don’t leave it to the last minute to submit your nominations. The online form can be accessed HERE.

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Nominations for the Chamber’s 30th annual Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night are now open!

The Sarnia Lambton Business Achievement Awards (OBAAs) is the most recognized industry gala with a single focus on celebrating business success.

The OBAAs, which celebrate incredible innovations and achievements, is unique in its engagement of a broad range of industry sectors and sizes from across the province. We will be celebrating this year on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia.

Tickets are now available. Click HERE to buy online.

This week we’re wrapping up our series of articles intended to explain in some detail each of the 15 categories for which businesses and individuals can be nominated.

Nominations can be done online. Just CLICK HERE to get started.

This week we present the details of the last three categories.

Business Leadership (Individual)

Certainly, companies are essential to the vitality of the community. But so are individuals and we recognize individual leadership as part of a dynamic that can’t be overlooked. Our purpose in celebrating one outstanding Business Leadership winner is to bring forward the very best example that exists in our community today.

Criteria:

  • Commitment to developing the business community by offering expertise and leadership
  • Commitment to self-development
  • Commitment to enhancing the image of Sarnia Lambton.

Customer Service (Individual)

Picking one individual that stands out when it comes to delivering customer service may be a tough order but that won’t keep our judges from making the call. We all want to be the best at what we do, and recognition in the form of a Customer Service award is something that goes hand in hand with the goals of the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.

Criteria:

  • Individual who go above and beyond the job and/or consumer expectations
  • High-quality service from beginning to end – the amount and quality of assistance given to customers
  • Individual behavior or activities that help improve morale and public relations

Member of the Year (Individual)

Every year, the Chamber’s selection of Member of the Year is one of the most anticipated moments of the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards. This year will be no exception as the competition heats up. Chamber Members have a well-deserved reputation for setting high standards.

Criteria:

  • The volunteer must have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills through selfless contributions, leading to significant local achievements or highly successful events.
  • Contributions should be above and beyond the nominee’s normal job/occupation.
  • The nominee must have shown responsibility or demonstrated leadership qualities while being creative and using their own initiative
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It may seem like one of those “distant” events, but Friday, October 18 isn’t really that long off.

Which means now that tickets are available for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night, now would be a great time to pick out your seats!

Ticket sales can be purchased now by CLICKING HERE or by calling or visiting the Imperial Theatre box office. Details on hours of operation can be found at www.imperialtheatre.net.

Our continuing thanks go to Libro Credit Union for their lead sponsorship of this signature Chamber event.

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With the nomination period well underway for the 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, we continue our series highlighting the various categories under which you can put forward your favourite business (or individual).

The Sarnia Lambton Business Achievement Awards (OBAAs) is the most recognized industry gala with a single focus on celebrating business success.

Now in its 30th year, this year’s OBAA will take place on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Nominations can be done online. Just CLICK HERE to get started.

This week’s feature categories are Business of the Year and Social Responsibility

Business of the Year

Of all the businesses in our region, there is ONE that stands out as driving value—for its customers, employees, community and beyond. That’s what the Business of the Year category is all about, celebrating excellence across the board. We all know companies that provide leadership in their niche category. But it’s the well-rounded organization that has delivered on a promise of excellence that this category seeks to recognize.

Criteria:

  • Commitment to demonstrating excellence in products or services
  • Defining what it means to go beyond the expected.
  • Generating exceptional measures of value to the community and its team members.
  • Commitment to enhancing the image of Sarnia Lambton

Social Responsibility

It takes more than economic vitality to make our community a strong place to live and work. An organization also has the obligation to act for the benefit of society and the economy. This award recognizes the value that such an enterprise generates. Our recognition of excellence and innovation among those organizations that deliver on a promise of generating social responsibility is part of what makes us all stronger.

Criteria:

  • to act for the benefit of society/community
  • maintain a balance between the economy and ecosystems
  • take a stance on important social issues

Next week’s feature categories: Entrepreneur of the Year and Business Leadership (individual)

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Planet Fitness is now open at 1337 Exmouth Street and representatives of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber were there on Monday to welcome one of its newest members.

The 24/7 facility, which features an extensive array of exercise equipment, is located in space once occupied by a grocery store, near the intersection of Lambton Mall Road and Exmouth.

Welcoming Planet Fitness to the community were Gail Ann Bondar, the Chamber’s manager of Membership Engagement and Services, along with Shirley de Silva, president and CEO (pictured with Sarah Wilson, Planet Fitness marketing manager).

The Planet Fitness Sarnia manager is Arianna Noctor.

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In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce hops in its time machine and takes us back through all the interprovincial trade inefficiencies and hopelessly outdated promises made by Canada’s Premiers that are obstructing the liberalization of alcohol trade.

With Council of the Federations meeting once again in a few weeks, the Premiers will talk tough or announce a new plan or promise to improve interprovincial trade. Sadly, given their poor record removing these trade barriers, we do not need to take our time machine into the future to know that we are just going to get more of the same.

Nevertheless, the stakes are too high for us not to continue to fight for more constructive solutions to Canada’s internal trade malaise. The Canadian Chamber, which counts the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce among its members, is calling for a full review of the Canada Free Trade Agreement in its federal election platform, Vote Prosperity.

Read more in this month’s Five Minutes for Business:

Buckle up, let’s hop in the time machine and take a spin back to July 2017. Canadians are celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, and businesses are trying to decipher the new Canadian Free Trade
Agreement (CFTA) that had just been enacted following two years of federal-provincial-territorial negotiations. The result of these negotiations was an agreement that was, in their words, not ours, “a comprehensive set of rules that will help achieve a modern and competitive economic union for all Canadians.”

As the CFTA was coming into force, there were signs this comprehensive set of rules was not all it was cracked up to be. During the CFTA
negotiations, provinces and territories could not agree on opening up Canada’s archaic interprovincial alcohol rules and specifically excluded them from the agreement. Instead, they announced the creation of an alcohol beverages working group to assess options for liberalizing trade in alcohol.

Okay, back in the time machine we go. It is July 2018 in beautiful Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, where premiers are meeting to consider the
recommendations from 12 months of negotiations by the working group. At this time, the provinces are only three months removed from the Supreme Court ruling in R. v. Comeau, which upheld that provinces and territories have broad constitutional authority to enact trade-restricting legislation.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce was an intervener in this case and argued before the Supreme Court for a modern interpretation of our constitution that would guarantee free trade among the provinces and territories. Fresh off the Supreme Court’s ruling preserving internal trade restrictions that the provinces had argued for, surely they would be eager to demonstrate to businesses and consumers that they were ready to take action on their own terms to liberalize alcohol trade, right? Wrong.

During its year of meetings, the alcoholic beverages working group could not agree to ease the rules limiting the amount of alcohol Canadians can bring across provincial borders or to allow for direct-to-consumer alcohol purchases between provinces. Instead, premiers agreed in principle to increase personal exemption limits when crossing provincial/territorial boundaries.

They also “directed ministers to consider options to increase consumer choice and access to alcoholic beverages, and ensure that any proposed changes be done in a socially and fiscally responsible way.” As Canadian Chamber President and CEO Perrin Beatty outlined in an op-ed with the
Canadian Vintners Association afterward, this progress was not a policy breakthrough for consumers or for Canadian wineries.

Next stop in our time machine is December 2018 in Montreal, Québec, where the premiers are meeting yet again to demonstrate “progress” in
reducing interprovincial trade barriers. A meeting only five months after the last must surely mean there was a big breakthrough in alcohol negotiations, right? Wrong. At the meeting, premiers reiterated that provinces and territories were moving to address personal exemption limits for individual transport and announced they were “developing an action plan to enhance trade in alcoholic beverages.” Their
announcement also confidently stated that, “premiers have tasked responsible ministers with overseeing the timely implementation of this
plan.”

Here we go, back in the time machine to a few weeks ago. It is May 2019, and the federal, provincial and territorial internal trade ministers are meeting again to unveil more “progress” on alcohol trade. Surely, this is finally the moment we would get a glimpse of what “timely implementation” of a plan to liberalize alcohol trade would look like, right? Wrong.

Instead, ministers announced that governments had agreed to adopt the “action plan” alluded to in the previous meeting. The action plan includes a potpourri of bold commitments such as “developing an online bilingual information hub” for alcohol manufacturers, provinces and territories working “to make basic information on pricing policies for alcoholic beverages publicly available” and a “technically-focused working
group to assess the feasibility of direct-to-consumer sales.”

For those less familiar with the dialect of internal trade speak, “action plan” translates loosely to “we cannot agree to anything major and will continue to kick this can down the road until our next meeting and next action plan.”

You might not have seen any news coverage of the May 2019 meeting because there was barely any. Why should consumers and businesses pay
any more attention to the perpetual promise machine that is interprovincial alcohol negotiations? Why should we have any confidence in CFTA if, after years of negotiations, our governments still cannot agree to let us order a case of wine or beer from out of province? Because the stakes are too high.

In the face of overwhelming bureaucratic inertia and a lack of political leadership, the business community will continue to propose constructive
solutions to Canada’s internal trade malaise. As part of our 2019 Vote Prosperity election platform, we are calling for a full review of the
CFTA to establish an agreement that allows for
actual free trade in this country.

From July 9 to 11, just a few weeks from now, the Council of the Federation will meet in Saskatoon for its annual meeting. Undoubtedly, premiers will
talk tough or announce a new plan or promise to improve interprovincial trade. Sadly, given their poor record removing these trade barriers, we do not need to take our time machine into the future to know we are just going to get more of the same.

Five Minutes for Business is a regular feature on issues of interest to the business community. The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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Size matters, but so does having a local presence in the business of mortgage lending.

As the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce “Member of the Month” for June, Sherwood Mortgage Group, part of the Mortgage Architects Planning Network, has both covered.

With some 54 agents in all, Sherwood Mortage Group has been in the community for nearly 10 years—established locally since August 2009—with two agents supported by administrators.

Lead by Erin Hamilton, Sherwood Mortgage Group has a focused team of two agents in Sarnia-Lambton, supported by two administrators.

Erin is pictured (middle) with Shirley de Silva—left—and Gail Anne Bondar.

Sherwood Mortage Group specializes in providing comprehensive information and advice around mortgage, with professionals staying on top of the latest guidelines and rules in an ever-changing industry.

Congratulations to Sherwood Mortgage Group, part of the Mortgage Architects Planning Network, for being selected as the Chamber’s “Member of the Month.”

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With the nomination period well underway for the 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, we continue our series highlighting the various categories under which you can put forward your favourite business (or individual).

The Sarnia Lambton Business Achievement Awards (OBAAs) is the most recognized industry gala with a single focus on celebrating business success.

Now in its 30th year, this year’s OBAA will take place on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Nominations can be done online. Just CLICK HERE to get started.

This week’s feature categories are Inclusivity and Agri-Business of the Year.

Inclusivity

Celebrating what makes us different is important for many reasons, not least of which is that those differences are what makes us stronger. As a forward-thinking champion of inclusive principles, the employer selected will be living out an attitude that recognizes how important it is to build momentum in this area. Showing how inclusivity can be part of a competitive advantage is just part of what this award category demonstrates. The key is to drive respect, value and support through activities that take place on a daily basis.

Criteria:

  • Clearly demonstrates leadership and commitment through recruitment initiatives that focus on reaching the broadest possible talent
  • Provides access to mentoring tools and programs, including ones that support inclusivity including support for accessibility initiatives and assistive devices for those with disabilities, new immigrant employees, women in leadership, those who identify as LGBTQ, and members of visible minority groups.
  • Leadership programs built on a solid foundation of inclusion and accessibility training.
  • Ensures programs for employees from diverse backgrounds stay current on networking opportunities, customer products, services and programs targeted to diverse groups, including community activities, donations and volunteer opportunities.
  • Create/support initiatives to meet or exceed accessibility standards for premise design and IT development for both employees and/or customers
  • Builds a workforce that reflects the diversity of the customers and communities we live in and serve.

Agri-Business

Sarnia-Lambton remains one of Canada’s most diversified regions as defined by its mix of industrial and agricultural sectors. For those engaged in driving value through agri-business, this award is an opportunity to celebrate both the success and passion for growth and excellence in the agricultural sectors.

Criteria:

  • significant achievements as a senior leader in building, rejuvenating or expanding a business in the food, agribusiness or beverage sectors;
  • developed and communicated a clear vision and direction for sustainable growth and prosperity at both a corporate and industry level and;
  • Regarded as a good corporate citizen and demonstrates social commitment.

Next week’s feature categories: Business of the Year and Social Responsibility.

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