Tariffs. Trade talks. Pipelines. Electoral change. While the Canadian economy continues to grow (albeit somewhat slowly), these are just some of the factors that might slow it down. As we head into summer, and the mid-point of 2018, now is a good time to take stock of Canada’s economic performance and consider what the latter half of the year might have in store for us.

The economy stumbled into 2018, slogging its way through weak consumer spending and housing markets. Real GDP increased at a pace of 1.3% in the first three months of 2018—the slowest quarterly growth in nearly two years. The Canadian economy grew at less than a 2% rate for the third consecutive quarter, a far cry from the nearly 4% average between July 2016 and June 2017.

The good news is that economic growth seems poised to accelerate. While the cumulative result was disappointing, the quarter finished strong with February GDP up 0.4% month-over-month, followed by a 0.3% increase in March. Exports increased 1.6% in April, a good sign for an economy that will need export markets to make a bigger contribution to growth in place of consumer spending. This encouraging finish has hastened confidence that the economy is improving with stronger momentum going into Q2.

The bad news is that uncertainty about a variety of economic issues is weighing on business investment. Any optimism about the economy taking a turn for the better is tempered by the risk that uncertainty will drive investment away from Canada. Imports declined in April, indicating that business investment and domestic demand were scaled back during the month.

Ongoing insecurity about trade policies continues to cast a shadow over Canada’s outlook. The recent steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the United States—and the Canadian retaliation— are increasing investors’ concerns about the future of NAFTA, and even what a U.S. withdrawal would mean for Canada. With a new government in Ontario, Canada will have its work cut out to maintain a united front in response to further possible retaliatory measures.

Further complicating matters are the extraordinary measures taken by the federal government to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline—a step that never should have been necessary. This is another sign that we need to take a long hard look at our broken regulatory system and ensure Canada remains an attractive place to invest and do business.

These developments have heightened the existing doubts about Canada’s business competitiveness. The Canadian tax system is losing relative competitiveness compared to its peers due to recent tax reform in the United States and France. Significant uncertainty also surrounds how the Canada Revenue Agency will assess the new small business tax changes in the 2018 Budget. These factors are causing business investors to seek other markets or sit on their wallets.

The outlook for business investment is crucial because everything else the Bank of Canada usually considers in monetary policy decisions suggests the economy can handle higher borrowing costs. The central bank has been cautious thus far but recently signalled that higher interest rates will be warranted and that the governing council will take a gradual approach to policy adjustments.

The current data on economic growth supports this. Canadian households may be able to manage rising mortgage and consumer debt, as long as Canada’s economy continues to grow and unemployment remains relatively low. However, the risk that Canada’s economic prospects and investor confidence can be derailed by any number of uncertain issues remains high. The IMF’s recent mission to Canada concluded that our economic outlook is subject to significant risks—including a sharp correction in the housing market and a banking system with heavy exposure to household and corporate debt.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Crystal Ball Report predicted uncertainty for Canada’s economic and political outlook in 2018. Financial and economic imbalances have created a tenuous economic recovery. Rising protectionism has the potential to escalate into a trade war. Markets and business models are being disrupted by new technologies and opportunities. Overall, Canadian businesses are grappling with the speed of change. Adding to this, Canada’s economic performance in the first half of 2018 demonstrates that one of the few certainties in today’s economy is an enduring state of uncertainty.

This “Five Minutes for Business” was provided by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, of which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is a member.


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The Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation is hosting the live finale presentations of its “Win This Space” contest next Wednesday, June 20, with the winner to receive a free storefront space for a year.

The event will take place at the Lambton College Event Centre, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

There is no fee for entrance and light refreshments will be served.

The project is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southwestern Ontario.

Sponsors include Libro Credit Union and its Libro Prosperity Fund and Bluewater Power.

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Several members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are organizing “LOL Nite” for next Wednesday, July 18, with comedian Jeff Leeson as the feature entertainer.  His off the cuff, improvisational, electrifying style leaves crowds not only wanting more, but stunned at what they just witnessed. He’s played top venues in cities across Canada like Toronto, London and Vancouver.

The ticketed event—$20 for Chamber members, $25 for non-members—will take place at the former Taylor’s Furniture building (Christina St. N. and Cromwell St.) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Organizers expect a strong response for the event, especially given the renaissance of the downtown community and, in the renovated building.

Along with Jeff Leeson’s talents as one of the country’s “up and coming” comedians, the 19+ evening—in itself a great networking opportunity—will include a variety of food from Downtown Market food vendors. The fun will also include a scavenger hunt.

A strong social media campaign is already underway, with opportunities to win great prizes. But you MUST register online to be eligible!

The support of the following members is greatly appreciated by the Chamber:

Julie Ward/The Cooperators
Epic Fitness
Champion Home Inspections
Downtown Market
Mae Allen Confections
alt space
Mark Woolsey/Remax
greenafish art studio
Kirsten Anderson/Studio in Session

Registration is underway now. Click HERE to register.

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While anticipation is already building for the 2018 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, first things first.

With the nomination process for the Friday, October 12 event well underway, there is a deadline, that being Monday, July 9 at 5 p.m.

Nominations can also be ‘phoned in’—just call the Chamber offices:
(519) 336-2400.

Following that key date, nominees will be notified and once they accept the nomination, the process of submitting material for judging will begin.

Already dozens of companies have been nominated for one or more of the 16 categories at this year’s OBAA gala.

Is it your turn to win one of the top business awards in Sarnia-Lambton?

A significant change this year is removing the “membership requirement” for nominees. Self-nomination is permitted under the OBAA rules.

Nominations can be made online by clicking HERE or by filling out a form at the Chamber office. Nominations can also be made at any branch of Libro Credit Union, the presenting sponsor for this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.

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Following the application of tariffs and duties by the United States against Canadian producers of steel and aluminum, the Canadian government has issued a “notice of intent to impose countermeasures” action against the United States.

Businesses, including members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, have until June 15, 2018 to provide input to the Canadian government as to the impact any proposed action would have on their business.

Related to this issue, a news release from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has expressed disappointment for the action taken by U.S President Donald Trump.

“We are profoundly disappointed with President Trump’s refusal to work with his G7 colleagues,” said Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “His actions not only threaten the prosperity of America’s trading partners, but they also work directly against the interests of the American people, who are the primary beneficiaries of a growing global economy. We will continue to work for free and open trade.”

A link to the Canadian Department of Finance notice can be seen HERE. It contains instructions on how businesses, including members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, can respond ahead of a June 15, 2018 deadline.

The news release from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce can be seen HERE.



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It will be a great night on Wednesday, June 20 and the place to be is Big Fish, one of the more popular restaurants known for its seafood (naturally) and steak.

Owned by the Tsprailis family for several years now, Big Fish is proud to be the sponsor of the Chamber’s Business After 5 for June, opening its doors for the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. event.

As is the case with so many of the Chamber’s events, Business After 5 is a great opportunity to connect with other members in a casual atmosphere. The group that organizes these events pulls out all the stops to make it a great time!

We look forward to welcoming you on Wednesday, June 20 at Big Fish—1717 London Line, Sarnia. Mark it on your calendar today!


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As the heat of Sarnia-Lambton’s summer hits, there’s another season in full swing, that being nominations for this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.

While the event itself may seem a ways off—Friday, October 12 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia—it’s the nominations in some 16 categories that are now taking place.

Since nominations opened on April 9, dozens of companies and individuals have already had their names put forth, many from clients that have a keen desire to “spread the word” as to the satisfaction they’ve received over the past year.

But it’s also important to note that it is extremely rewarding for companies and individuals that have distinguished themselves in the eyes of their customers to be recognized in a public forum in one or more of the OBAA categories, says Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva.

“With this year’s event, we’ve also made the significant change of opening up nominations to every business in Sarnia-Lambton, not just those who are already members,” said de Silva.

The next key deadline on the path to this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards is Monday, July 9, when nominations come to a close.

At that point, nominees will be contacted for their formal acceptance and the preparation of their submissions for judging will begin.

This season’s OBAA gala is expected to be one of the Chamber’s most successful and exciting, with broader appeal and intense competition among so many worthy contenders for the various categories.

Nominations can be done online by clicking HERE or by filling out a form at the Chamber office or at any branch of Libro Credit Union, the presenting sponsor for this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards.


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Planning is underway for an event that will leave you laughing—and sharing a new appreciation for the importance of building community in a light-hearted setting.

While many of the details are just now coming together, this is no “ordinary” opportunity for bringing Chamber members together for a “joyous” time of connection.

Headlining this event—which will take place at the Downtown Market located on the ground floor of the former Taylor’s Furniture building (corner of Cromwell and Christina St.)—is Jeff Leeson, an accomplished stand-up comedian who’s known as the “King of Crowd Work.”

Look for more details on this event in future Chamber newsletters but be sure to save the date—Wednesday, July 18.

You won’t want to miss it!


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The Sarnia and District chapter of the Human Resource Professionals Association is holding a River Cruise event next Thursday, June 7, featuring speaker Jamelle Lindo, an emotional intelligence coach, trainer and speaker with over 10 years of professional experience in learning and development.

The event takes place at the Duc D’Orleans dock—297 Front St. N., Sarnia—beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m.

Lindo (pictured) is a certified international coach as well as a certified training practitioner who is passionate about supporting professionals in becoming their greatest version through the practice of emotional intelligence.

HRPA members (the local chapter is a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce) pay $20 + HST; non-members of the HRPA pay $35 + HST. Register for the event by CLICKING HERE.


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Last week, Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce CEO Shirley de Silva (pictured third from right) was part of a group that officially marked the opening of High Park Farms, a new cannabis greenhouse facility located in Enniskillen Township.

High Park was launched in April and will be producing and distributing a broad-based portfolio of cannabis brands and products for the Canadian market in anticipation of adult-use legislation.

We congratulate High Park and welcome them to our growing business community!

The event featured a series of speeches, tours, and a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. High Park was also pleased to announce a $15,000 donation to the Enniskillen Education Scholarship Fund to help promote post-secondary education in the region.

Cultivation began at High Park Farms in early May following the successful delivery of thousands of live cannabis plants from British Columbia.


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