Accessibility in Canada is inadequately addressing the barriers nearly four million Canadians face. Within the next 20 years, that number is expected to soar to over nine million, but by creating a more accessible Canada, there is a potential to unlock $16.8 billion in GDP by increasing our economy’s productive capacity by 2030, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Ultimately, improving accessibility not only betters the quality of life for persons with disabilities but would also dramatically increase their labour force participation and consumer spending. Our members have vocalized finding and retaining skilled staff among their top issues, yet there is an entire pool of educated and qualified Canadians with disabilities who are waiting to be hired. With job retention rates 72% higher among people with disabilities, it makes good cents sense to invest in creating an accessible work environment.

Assessing Accessibility

With one in seven Canadian adults currently living with a mobility, vision or hearing disability, tangible improvements in the built environment are needed to improve accessibility and to promote equality and inclusion for Canadians with disabilities. At our annual general meeting and convention, held last fall, more than 300 local chambers of commerce voted in support of a policy resolution to make Canada truly accessible and inclusive by recommending the federal government adopt the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Accessibility Certification Program as a voluntary complement to the accessibility requirements of the National Building Code. The program provides the roadmap for the adoption of universal principles and a way for all levels of governments to work together to improve the built environment.

But, the responsibility for the built environment can’t fall solely on the government. Businesses must lead the way in improving accessibility in their workplaces. From contrasting floor and wall colours to adjustable desk heights, there are a number of measures businesses can implement.

Including Inclusiveness

Acknowledging the value that inclusion can bring to an organization and the positive impact it can have on the Canadian economy, we built our headquarters to respect the design priorities reflected in the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Accessibility Certification Program and achieved certification this past September. The program measures the level of meaningful access beyond building code, and is based upon the holistic user experience of people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing.

It is time to access the ability of all Canadians, which is why we are encouraging businesses across Canada to be early adopters of this program and to be leaders in helping build a more accessible nation.

This “5 Minutes for Business” comes from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce which includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as one of its members.

Read More

It’s an age-old expression, but when it comes to underscoring the economy in Sarnia-Lambton, there really is strength in numbers.

Even more to the point, those who propose and approve laws and regulations at every level of government know just how effective an organization your Chamber of Commerce is when it comes to representing the interests of business.

And while we live in an era where the pace of change seems to be ever-increasing, at least one thing has remained consistently true and that is the influence that is exerted by a network of Chambers of Commerce, at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.

Almost every week, the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce receives the kind of contact that represents an implicit acknowledgement of the influence exerted by those who create and maintain elements of our economy.

Either in communication that asks for the support of the business community or seeks the opinion of business ahead of a legislative initiative, it is clear that the Chamber is viewed as a place representing clarity in how those who drive the economy are likely to respond.

Throughout the year, your Chamber takes that role seriously, certainly in our response to invitations to provide input in the form of consultations.

But it’s also why we engage through our participation as a member of the Chamber Network at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, which we see as an essential extension of our role in building consensus and—yes—the strength in numbers argument that serves us all so well.

Not long ago, representatives from your Chamber added our local voice to the Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and we’ll do the same when the gathering of members of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce takes place in the near future.

What this comes down to is exercising the role of advocacy throughout the year, building on the ongoing initiatives that begin and end with the interests of local business, added to a chorus that represent a clarity of voice from those across the province and the entire country.

None of this happens by accident.

We take our role, of advising on issues that will impact owners of businesses—small, medium or large—very seriously and with good reason.

While we are explicitly non-partisan in our approach to advocacy, we do stand up for the interests of members who see us as being able to effectively represent their interests on a consistent basis with sound economic arguments.

The Chamber is often one of the first places that society as a whole will turn to when formal debates over policy—especially in the context of an election. That in itself is something that has occurred on a consistent basis for decades now.

Clearly, there is a need for engagement throughout the year and with those who have a role in building a society where rules and regulations are part of life.

It’s part of a democratic process that ultimately makes a stronger society.

Our message is that our role, one that includes a strong sense of advocacy when it comes to the interests of business, is as relevant today as it has ever been.

My encouragement is that you join us in making our efforts even more effective in the months and years ahead.

Join us in bringing even more value for our society.

 

Read More

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.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be presenting a series of articles intended to explain in some detail each of the 16 categories that businesses and individuals can be nominated.

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

This week we give you the details on the first two of a total of 16 categories available for nomination: “Cool Place to Work” and “Tech-novation.”

Cool Place to Work

Having a place that focuses on creating a healthy, positive and productive work environment is the very definition of a “cool place to work” and this award epitomizes those qualities. You know you work in such a place when your friends keep asking how they can join the team you love so much.

Criteria:

Through a commitment to staff development, work/life balance, fair employment practices, and employee communications, the organization provides an exceptional work environment with proven positive results in employee satisfaction and retention.

Tech-novation

It’s one thing to apply the latest technology to the work you do. It’s quite another to lean into not just the “latest and greatest” but incorporating a spirit of innovation in doing so. That’s what it means to be a “tech-novation’ standout, an organization full of people who look for ways to be the best at what they do and lead the way.

Criteria:

Bringing a sense of enthusiasm and a commitment to driving technological innovation throughout the value chain.

Next week: Marketing & Promotion and Health, Safety & Environmental Leadership.

 

 

Read More

We’ve heard the phrase “entrepreneurial energy” for years now. It’s a concept that’s exciting and forward thinking and now there’s a small business conference being planned that’s specifically designed to harness that energy in ways that we can’t even imagine.

Save the date for SPARK 2019.  This can’t-miss day of panels, workshops, and keynote presentations by entrepreneurs will take place on Saturday, November 16.

While details for SPARK 2019 are still being put together, we can say the conference will be held at the Lambton College Event Centre.

This one-day conference will embrace change and incorporate ideas that range from the highs and lows of small business ownership to tackling challenges and leveraging new opportunities.

SPARK 2019 is also an opportunity to network and share strategies with other entrepreneurs that connect you to people and information that you need.

Let’s work together!  If you have any ideas that you would like us to explore, begin the conversation by contacting Gail Ann Bondar by email at gabondar@slchamber.ca or phone (519) 336-2400.

There are numerous opportunities for sponsorships and speaker recommendations.

 

Read More

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the national business organization that includes the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce as a member, is gearing up for this October’s Federal election with an initiative intended to put forward its core policy statements.

Much of what the Canadian Chamber is advocating appears on its VoteProsperity election policy website that puts forward the needs of Canadian businesses to all parties.

In an open letter signed by the Hon. Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, all party leaders and caucuses are asked to embrace the organization’s seven priorities.

Those priorities include:

  • A regulatory system that works for everyone, including business;
  • A tax system that is fair, efficient and modern;
  • Greater access to new markets around the world, and the breaking down of domestic trade barriers;
  • Helping SMEs in a way that’s meaningful to them so that they can grow and succeed at home and abroad;
  • Helping Canada seize the power of the digital age, while also investing in more traditional trade-enabling infrastructure;
  • Helping grow the 21st-century workforce with the skills, education, and training required to prosper; and
  • An affordable approach to filling the gaps in pharmacare without disrupting today’s employment provided plans.

The open letter “challenges (all of Canada’s federal party leaders) to give our 200,000 business owners what they must have: a fighting chance to compete and grow,” said Beatty. “Canada’s businesses have every right to expect a level playing field with the countries they compete against. We call on all party leaders to build their business policy proposals around the Vote Prosperity checklist, which outlines what Canada’s job creators themselves have identified as mission critical.”

The entire open letter can be seen HERE.

Locally,  a unified strategy to bring forward the interests of business is one of the most important initiatives available, especially in an election year. “When a business succeeds, Canada succeeds. Our businesses need the next government to be a forward-looking partner that helps them build a stronger and more innovative Canada for all,” said Beatty.

The Canadian Chamber’s platform was developed in partnership with Canada’s provincial and territorial Chambers of Commerce, an entire network of 450 organizations that will be working together throughout the election period to keep Canada’s political leaders focused on taking bold steps to protect and strengthen Canada’s competitive position.

 

 

Read More

The journey to the 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night, which takes place on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia, has begun as nominations are officially open.

At an event held Wednesday at the Imperial Theatre, representatives from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, along with Libro Credit Union, the title sponsor of this signature event, gathered for the official launch of this year’s OBAA season.

Pictured are, from left, Cathy Thompson of Libro, Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber, and Jamie Carson of Libro. In the background is the “new look” for this year’s OBAA night.

The upcoming event is in its 30th year.

A link to the online nomination form can be found HERE.

Read More

At an event held on Tuesday afternoon in recognition of National Economic Development Week, the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership opened its doors as a way of helping develop a further understanding on how the organization is working for the community.

The open house was well attended and helpful conversations around priorities embraced by SLEP were taking place throughout the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. gathering.

Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and pictured with SLEP CEO Stephen Thompson, was in attendance. De Silva is also on the board of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

 

Read More

Thanks to this month’s host,  WMA Promotions, May’s Business After 5 will be taking place next Wednesday, May 15 at the Sarnia Golf & Curling Club.

Members and guests will be treated to a golf-themed event (no surprise given the venue!) and another great opportunity to network in one of the community’s most appealing places to relax and network.

WMA Promotions, our sponsor, is a marketing and promotions company owned by Wayne Archer, who is pictured with Kendra Langis, a member of his team.

Thanks also to a dedicated volunteer committee that works hard to make each and every Business After 5 gathering the best possible spot to exercise your networking skills.  We look forward to welcoming you on Wednesday, May 15, beginning at 5 p.m. and running through 7 p.m.

See you there!

Read More

Delegates to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Convention gathered last weekend to consider several resolutions, including two that were presented by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Both Board Chair Ryan Bell and President and CEO Shirley de Silva were in attendance at the event, which was held in Muskoka starting last Friday and concluding on Sunday.

One of the resolutions sponsored by the Chamber urged the Provincial Government to improve the quality of roads in Ontario by implementing higher standards for asphalt used in paving and measuring the subsequent performance of the material.

Another, which was co-authored with the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, urges the Government to introduce a compulsory course on business and commerce principles. Such a course, which would be required in order to receive an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, would be based on existing business and family economics curriculum.

”The real value of coming together with Chambers and Boards of Trade from every part of Ontario is being able to come to united positions on various issues of importance to our members,” said de Silva.

”Representatives of the Government not only listen to what a unified Chamber Network has to say on key issues, but they seek out the opinions of business, as represented by our members. Plus, we have evidence that the collective input of the business community does influence the details of proposed legislation,” she added.

 

Read More

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has an opportunity for a summer student who will work at its offices.

The person selected for the position, which will include eight weeks of work, will help with various projects being undertaken by the Chamber.

Expressions of interest should be directed to Shirley de Silva, president and CEO, by email or by phoning (519) 336-2400.

Read More

Partners and Sponsors