Business success can often be predicted, say experts with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, a division of the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

The first indicator is employee engagement, which is critical to performance in any organization.

Employees need to be engaged, focused, at their post, able to handle complexities, plan, make decisions, build relationships—and for that they need to be safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Without that baseline, they can’t focus on growing your business, however much they might want to or try. Studies show that an engaged workforce can increase profit margins by as much as 4% and yield up to 22% more in shareholder returns.

The second indicator is the ability of your supervisors to defend against preventable risk. Supervisors have an up-close and personal view of what’s happening every day. They know workers best, pull the levers of motivation, and are responsible for monitoring compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations.

Workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities are often symptoms of defects in a business’s health and safety culture, as well as its policies and procedures. These defects also result in near misses, inefficiencies, equipment damage, unproductive attitudes, and more.

Competent, plugged-in supervisors, when supported by their employers, have the frontline perspective to identify such defects and weaknesses, and implement processes to defend against them.

But what’s the best way to invest in this important role?

“Of all the workplace parties, supervisors have the toughest gig when it comes to health and safety,” says Scott Morrow, a WSPS training specialist. “They have the most responsibilities under various pieces of legislation.”

He says the most important thing an employer can do is educate and train supervisors in those responsibilities.  He identifies five areas to focus your efforts on.

1. The Occupational Health and Safety Act. Without a working knowledge of the act, a supervisor cannot be deemed “competent.” Yet, Scott says many supervisors he trains have scant knowledge of the act and their duties under it. “If they don’t know the law, they can’t enforce it,” says Morrow. It’s critical that employers also understand the act and what competency means.

2. Hazard identification, risk assessment, and controls. Training on existing and potential hazards is also required for a supervisor to be deemed competent, says Morrow. “Supervisors have to educate and train workers. They can’t do that without getting the proper training themselves.”

3. Due diligence. “Supervisors must take every precaution reasonable to protect workers,” explains Morrow. In the event of an incident, “they can be charged for failing to make sure something happens.” To prove due diligence, “they need to have documentation, policies, procedures, job description, education and training records, compliance notes, discipline records, and more.”

4. Accommodation and return to work. Many supervisors are asked by their employers to accommodate returning workers or workers with disabilities while having little or no knowledge of what the law requires, says Morrow.

5. Leadership and coaching. Effective supervisors need to be good at both.

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services can help through a two-day course that’s available in class or on site.

This training solution goes beyond awareness of supervisors’ legal roles and responsibilities, engaging participants in identifying real-life challenges and solutions. It considers the day-to-day context in which supervisors perform their role and brings to life the concept of organizing work and performance.

This soft skills based solution teaches supervisors to motivate, coach, discipline and support employees, and now includes content on:

—mental health;
—conflict resolution;
—human rights;
—progressive discipline;
—violence and harassment;
—what to do if an injury happens; and
—workers with disabilities

Supervisors play a pivotal role in building a positive workplace culture that integrates business needs with health and safety.

Online details on registration for this course can be found HERE.




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What do Canadians want for Christmas this year? It looks like we all have good cheer on our minds: An Ipsos poll (commissioned by the Montreal Economic Institute, Canadian Constitutional Foundation and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and released a few days ago) found that 89% of Canadians believe they should be able to buy any amount of alcohol they want in one province and transport it to another. Restrictions on the movement of beer and wine across provincial boundaries are just one e example of the barriers that impede trade within Canada, drive up business costs, and hurt Canadian consumers.

In many cases, the problem is unnecessary differences in provincial and territorial regulations, leading to complex, and costly compliance requirements for businesses operating across provincial boundaries. In other more egregious cases, like restrictions on the interprovincial movement of alcohol, it is nothing less than out – and – out protectionism.

There is no question that freer trade among provinces and territories would lower the cost of doing business in Canada, attract more investment, and provide more choices at more competitive prices for consumers. However, governments have been slow to take meaningful action to remove these barriers. Restrictions on the sale and transportation of beer and wine have been off limits to any reform initiative. But, not all hope is lost. Like an awkward holiday dinner with the in – laws, beer and wine might save us still.

The Canadian Chamber is an intervener in the Supreme Court Case, R v Comeau. Gerald Comeau is the New Brunswick retiree who five years ago drove to Quebec to buy some alcohol. On his way home, crossing back into New Brunswick, he received a ticket from the RCMP for transporting alcohol across the border. He challenged the ticket in court won. Now the case has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Although the Comeau case is about alcohol, its implications are much larger. With the Comeau case, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to take a historic step towards freer interprovincial trade. The case rests on the interpretation of s. 121 of the Canadian Constitution, which states, “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.”

The courts have interpreted this provision narrowly in the past, which has allowed provincial and territorial governments to enact trade barriers to protect domestic producers. However, the Chamber believes that a broader interpretation, which could outlaw many of the protectionist trade practices that have been engaged in for years, is appropriate.

As the Comeau case proceeds, there are signs that governments in Canada understand that the status quo is unsustainable. Earlier this year, the federal, provincial and territorial governments enacted the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, a pact which holds promise to remove barriers and facilitate regulatory harmonization between jurisdictions through a regulatory reconciliation process. While that is a nice stocking stuffer, a win for Gerald Comeau may be the perfect Christmas present for Canadians.

A short summary of the Comeau case and our legal argument is available here. Our lawyers presented oral arguments at the Supreme Court hearing in Ottawa on December 6 and 7, 2017.

The above article is part of a series—5 Minutes for Business—from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which counts the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as a member. More information is available from Aaron Van Tassel, policy advisor with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at (613) 238-4000, ext. 262 or by email:




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Pictured from left are Michael John Kooy, chair of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce; Hon. Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Growth; and Shirley de Silva, Chamber president and CEO.

Officials at the Sarnia Lambton of Chamber of Commerce say the announcement Friday by NOVA Chemicals that the green light has been given for a massive $2 billion expansion at its St. Clair Township site is evidence of the power of local companies working collectively.

“We see what the management and board of directors of NOVA Chemicals have now embraced with this final approval,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO. “This is what is being described as a ‘game changer’ in terms of investment. It would be hard to overestimate the significance of this announcement, especially since it is the largest single investment in the history of the Canadian petrochemical industry.”

De Silva also pointed out that the final approval of NOVA, which comes after many months of planning and deliberation, also factored in a so-called “intangible” factor—the enthusiasm put forward for the project by the entire community, including the business sector.

“Our members and the entire business community recognize that NOVA’s stature as a great neighbour and a great partner with strong roots says much about the future of our area. And clearly, they have put their words into action in a very significant and visible way,” she said.

The entire Chamber of Commerce will continue to look for ways to facilitate the success of businesses like NOVA moving forward.

“Announcements like this help demonstrate how taking the long view is what makes this community such a harbour of strength for the new economy,” added de Silva.

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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is proud to be involved in the 2018 production of a coffee table book that will celebrate everything there is to love about Sarnia-Lambton, with emphasis on the storytelling to be done through the camera lens of Richard Bain, a noted landscape photographer.

As the project is launched, the first step has been to gather the support of Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley and Lambton County Warden Bill Weber, both of whom have enthusiastically done so.

Arguably one of Sarnia-Lambton’s most famous “alum” is Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first to command a mission of the International Space Station, who has agreed to write the foreword to the coffee table book.

While the name of the book has yet to be finalized, the “behind the scenes” work has already begun, with Richard Bain making periodic visits to the area from his home in London, Ont.

Richard has already published a number of coffee table books in partnership with some of the broader region’s Chambers of Commerce, including Stratford, Niagara, London, Guelph, and Kitchener-Waterloo. Without exception,  chambers have been very complimentary of the positive results generated by those projects in their communities.

Here in Sarnia-Lambton, the Chamber will be inviting 30 select corporations and institutions to partner on the project. Sponsors will receive several books to distribute to their clients, employees, and others. Additional copies will be made available through Ontario bookstores or directly from the Chamber.

If your organization would like to ensure your spot on the list of sponsors, contact Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber, directly at (519) 336-2400, ext. 1, or by email:


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It may seem like a long ways off, but organizing next year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards still takes time and the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce committee is already meeting to ensure another successful event.

We’ll start with the date, which has moved to Friday, October 12, 2018. The Imperial Theatre, always a warm and willing host, has been booked for the night, the timing intended to coincide with Business Week, a logical connection with the business community.

And speaking of “community,” the Chamber this year is widening its reach to include all businesses in the Sarnia-Lambton community.

While the response from Chamber members to the OBAA process was certainly strong, the view that removing the requirement that those being nominated would be members is expected to substantially broaden the impact to the entire community.

Which brings us to the traditionally “paper-intensive” submissions themselves.

The Chamber is working to create an “on-line” process through which those who are nominated will enter the judging phase of the 2018 OBAA.

Sponsors from previous years will be contacted in the very near future, but opportunities remain for the kind of exposure to which growing companies can benefit. Lead sponsor for the 2018 OBAA is Libro Credit Union.

Dates and an easy-to-follow nomination and submission process will be widely communicated in the very early days of 2018.

In the meantime, mark your calendar—Friday, October 12, 2018—and get ready for an even bigger, brighter, and bolder Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala, one of the Chamber’s “must attend” gatherings.



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Chamber members will soon be able to take advantage of a new member benefit that will help them bridge a “digital divide” through the use of technologies designed to provide online shoppers with a 360-view of the physical premise ahead of their actual in-store experience.

The service is being offered by JoeGoPhoto, a new Chamber member based in Petrolia.

This service enables clients to have their shop photographed in a way that it can be linked to Google maps. A visitor who finds the business online can then take a visual tour, without having to leave their computer or mobile device.

Members have said they value opportunities to assist them with the challenges facing brick and mortar stores to compete in an increasingly digital world.  Working with JoeGoPhoto,  the Chamber is  excited to bring this cutting-edge technology to our  members.

For further information on this member benefit, contact Kim Inniss-Petersen, manager of Member Engagement and Retention.


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The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) Network, a nonprofit group that includes representation in Sarnia-Lambton, is reaching out to the community to determine how residents and businesses throughout the area currently use the internet.

While the online survey is completely voluntary, SWIFT officials say the information will be used to help make sure plans for improvement to internet service are consistent with the need.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce supports SWIFT’s goal of building “broadband for everyone” and encourages members to participate in the survey.

Information collected in the survey will be kept confidential and data gathered will only be used in a form that guarantees anonymity.

SWIFT, which was initially funded by the federal and provincial governments, includes partners throughout the region.

More information on SWIFT can be found on its website (


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Chamber members can now explore ways to brighten up their email correspondence through “Outstand,” a member benefit program and service that’s committed to helping businesses improve the way they communicate. Customers using Outstand can create stunning, branded messages that make a powerful connection and the right impression in any inbox.

Chamber members will be able to sign up for Outstand to integrate emails with text messaging and dramatically improve click rates. There are numerous options to automate marketing campaigns, all with new levels of personalization to stand out and accelerate relationships.

For more information on Outstand, check out their website—then contact Kim Inniss-Petersen, the Chamber’s manager of Member Engagement and Retention, to take the next step in improving your email service with special Chamber member pricing.


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December’s Business After 5, which takes place on Wednesday, December 13, is a very special version of the monthly Chamber event.

With a “Yule Shop & Mingle” theme, the event, which takes place at the Dante Club (1330 London Road) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will feature an extra hour of networking, along with shopping for those special people on your list.

This is one of the most popular Business After 5 events of the year, made extra special in that the “holiday spirit” has settled on us all!

Having the opportunity to see what various merchants who have signed up to display their goodies (Christmas presents anyone?) puts the proverbial icing on the cake.

There is also an opportunity as part of this Business After 5 to “meet and mingle” with members of the YP Connects group.

Looking for an opportunity to take part in the shopping part of this event? A few spots are still available by contacting Kim Inniss-Petersen, the Chamber’s manager of Member Engagement and Retention.

Don’t miss out!


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The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has urged Sarnia City Council to “think outside the box” and provide leadership with a view to increasing revenue without putting additional burdens on taxpayers.

The comments from the Chamber came in the form of a letter addressed to Mayor Mike Bradley and members of Council that was delivered to City Hall ahead of budget deliberations that took place earlier this week (Nov. 20, 2017)

Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva and Chair Michael Kooy, in acknowledging that “our goals are high,” also said the vision of the Chamber and its members is clear.

“We will need to work together as a community to succeed,” said the Chamber representatives.

In the letter, the Chamber focused its comments on three areas: taxation, debt, and infrastructure.


The Chamber is advocating for revenue generation over cost reduction or increasing taxation. The organization said it supports Council’s direction to staff to research potential business incentives, including locked-in commercial tax rates and grants to offset development charges.

The Chamber advocates a “trial” period for the incentives to determine their effectiveness.


While the Chamber has congratulated the City for reducing its municipal debt, it reminded Council of its urging last year to take advantage of historically low debt and low-interest rates to invest in economic development projects. This year, it cited the partnership to redevelop the former Sarnia General Hospital site as an excellent investment that will revitalize a neighbourhood while removing what had become an eyesore, a fiscal burden, and a security risk.

The Chamber also pointed to funding for the Oversized Load Corridor by the City as a worthwhile investment.


The Chamber is pleased that Sarnia is expanding its asset management plans pointing out that there is a minimum of $240 million in repairs, upgrades, and replacements needed.

The letter concluded with a recommendation to make wise investments “to create a more prosperous community which new and existing residents are proud to call home.”

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