One of the greatest challenges we hear from businesses is finding the right talent. A survey of Ontario Chamber of Commerce members found that 82% of the businesses that were recruiting in 2016 found it difficult to recruit workers with the right technical training, certifications, and/or “soft skills” such as communications, entrepreneurship and organizational awareness.

The problem is due to a combination of lower unemployment rates, an aging population, youth pursuing longer educations, and students choosing university degrees over obtaining a skilled trade.

It’s not just employers that are worried. More than half of Ontario’s workers fear that their skills will not be useful a decade from now because of automation and changes in the economy.

The impact of this “skills mismatch” is increased turnover rates, reduced productivity, increased unemployment, job dissatisfaction and highly educated people working in positions for which they are overqualified (think of a Master’s graduate working at Starbucks).

In its newest report, “Talent in Transition: Addressing the Skills Mismatch in Ontario”, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce recommends 10 way to address this problem.

  1. Help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) offer “experiential learning opportunities” like co-ops, internships and apprenticeships.
  2. Increase SME’s awareness of experiential learning opportunities that exist in Ontario.
  3. Increase labour market participation of females, indigenous and disabled persons through experiential learning opportunities.
  4. Make it easier for job-seekers to use Employment Ontario services.
  5. Consider evaluating the success of employment programs based on the number of clients finding long term, sustainable employment.
  6. Revise the journey-person to apprenticeship ratio to create more opportunities for apprentices.
  7. Increase support for apprenticeship consortiums that help SMEs hire apprentices.
  8. Simplify the apprenticeship application process.
  9. Reform the College of Trades so that it can better promote careers in the skilled trades.
  10. Increase awareness of the benefits of obtaining a career in the skilled trades.

Addressing the skills mismatch is a challenge for both government and business.  Small businesses in particular find it challenging to sort through government programs and employment services. Given that the majority of private sector jobs in Ontario are in small business, it’s essential that solutions are aimed at helping this sector find and retain qualified talent.


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City seeking views on outdoor beer garden proposal

The City of Sarnia is seeking input on a proposal for the development of an “urban plaza”, which could involve an outdoor beer garden operating out of modified shipping containers in downtown Sarnia. The location being considered is in the parking lot at George and Front streets, which could require moving the lot to another location. 

The idea was inspired by a similar project in Midland, Michigan.

For more details about the proposal, links to staff reports and consultation opportunities visit

Chamber members are encouraged to comment now by completing this survey.

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Note: The consultation period has been extended until October 1, 2017. 

Chamber members are invited to weigh-in on a proposed City of Sarnia bylaw that would protect healthy trees on private properties that are not regulated by the County of Lambton Woodlands Conservation By-law No. 4 of 2012.

If you would like to learn more about the proposed bylaw, how it might impact you and give your feedback to the City, attend a focus group session on Monday, June 26 at 5:00 p.m at Tourism Sarnia Lambton’s office, 1455 Venetian Boulevard, Pt Edward. Please click to RSVP.

Other options to weigh-in include:

  • Attending a public consultation session on Wednesday, June 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Sarnia City Hall.
  • Emailing comments to or
  • Visiting the Smart Sarnia community engagement web site for more information and to complete a questionnaire

The full details on the tree by-law can be found HERE.


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You know it’s coming—the blistering heat of the summer months. It’s a time many have been waiting months for.

But while those blistering hot summer days offer opportunities to hit the beach or whatever seasonal enjoyment you may prefer, they can also present a safety issue in the workplace, one that should be addressed now.

Warren Clements, an occupational hygienist with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services, says everyone in a business has a role to play in keeping employees safe. “Employers, supervisors and workers all can make a difference in their workplace.”

The WSPS offers a 10-step plan of action to help.

For employers

1. Put a policy and procedures in place, based on risk assessment. If heat stress is considered a hazard, consider conducting heat stress measurements and developing a control plan, including engineering controls such as insulating hot surfaces.

2. Train all employees during orientation on the policy and procedures. Include heat stress symptoms, how to prevent it, and what to do if someone starts showing symptoms. Heat stress training is particularly critical for young and new workers, as well as all manual workers. Research conducted by the Institute for Work & Health shows that heat strokes, sunstrokes and other heat illnesses disproportionately affect those on the job less than two months.

Steps for supervisors

3. Acclimatize workers to hot conditions, and watch out for de-acclimatization. Workers can lose their tolerance in only four days.

4. Schedule work in the hottest locations for cooler times of day. Build cool-down breaks into work schedules. Adjust the frequency and duration of breaks as needed. “Taking a break means going to a cooler work area or providing workers with periodic rest breaks and rest facilities in cooler conditions,” says Warren.

5. Get to know your workplace and your workers. “Are there certain jobs at elevated risk? Is anybody working outside today? Keep your eyes and ears open: ‘Is so-and-so looking a little different from how he normally looks? A little more flushed? Sitting down more?’”

6. Ensure ready access to cool water in convenient, visible locations. Workers need to replenish their fluids if they are becoming dehydrated.

7. Supply protective equipment and clothing as needed, such as water-dampened cotton whole-body suits, cooling vests with pockets that hold cold packs, and water-cooled suits.

8. Monitor weather forecasts. “If it’s Tuesday and you know superhot weather is coming on Thursday, ask yourself, ‘Who will be working then? What will they be doing? Who should I watch out for?’”

9. Be extra vigilant in extreme conditions. “Check on workers frequently. If you can’t do this, then assign a temporary pair of eyes to do it for you.”

Steps for workers

10. Watch out for each other and speak up. “People suffering from heat stress don’t always recognize their own symptoms. If anyone’s behaviour is ‘more than usual’ — more sweating, more flushed, hyperventilating — it could be a sign of heat stress.” Other signs could include rashes, muscle cramping, dizziness, fainting, and headaches.

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The Federal Government is accepting applications from eligible applicants interested in receiving funding from the Enabling Accessibility Fund, which is intended to help  businesses to improve accessibility and/or safety for people with disabilities. It does so by supporting the capital costs of renovation, construction and/or retrofit activities and the provision of accessible technologies in workplaces and communities across Canada.

The deadline for the current round of applications is July 6, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

The improvements made must be addressed through renovation, construction and/or retrofit activities or through the provision of accessible technologies, in facilities where people with disabilities work or could work in the future. While proposed projects can address accessibility needs that are specific to one current or future employee, the measures/features to be implemented must be usable/transferable to other current or future employees facing similar accessibility barriers, and must remain with the organization for their use (e.g. an accessible workstation with adjustable counter tops and cabinets with pull-out shelves meets the objective, whereas hearing aids would not).

A full explanation of the program, including a guide that employers can use to determine their eligibility, can be accessed HERE.


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It’s just days away and nominees in some 16 categories for this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards gala (#OBAASL17) are getting ready to put their best foot forward on the stage at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

The event, the most significant in the business calendar for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, takes place Friday, June 16, beginning with a “red carpet” walk in front of the Imperial Theatre and culminating with a spectacular awards ceremony.

It’s sure to be a memorable night, the preparations for which began last December when the call for nominations went out.

Once nominations were received, panels of judges went to work in combing through submissions.

And it all comes together next Friday, June 16 at 7:00 PM.

Be sure to get your tickets NOW—online at or by phone at (519) 344-7469. And we’ll see you there!

*parking is available for no charge at Bayside Mall for the OBAA participants!



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The countdown is on! Only two weeks to go and the excitement is growing! Fast approaching is  this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards Gala, on Friday, June 16, 2017 at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Time is running out.  Get your ticket now and ensure  you’re part of it all!

We really want to see you there.  So, drop what you’re doing (safely, of course) and get in touch with the Imperial Theatre’s box office. A link to the “buy tickets” page can be found HERE.

The box office phone is (519) 344-7469.

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s 2017 OBAA gala, proudly sponsored by Libro Credit Union.


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The City of Sarnia is inviting the public to weigh in on future plans regarding the transit service levy. The proposal is to have all Sarnia property owners, including those located more than 450 metres from a bus route, pay the transit levy and share in the costs.  Read more about the potential costs/savings and see if you are already paying the levy, by location, here.

Businesses are encouraged to give their feedback by completing a survey (before June 22 the deadline has been extended to August 4), emailing or attending a public consultation meeting on June 19.

To participate in the public consultation session, scheduled for Monday, June 19, immediately before City Council’s regular meeting, contact the Clerk’s office prior to noon on June 14, 2017, although there is no requirement for registering prior to a public meeting.

A paper copy of the survey is available at City Hall.

Businesses and property owners are encouraged to get involved by participating in the survey or sending their comments to the City.

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Thanks to a decision by Sarnia City Council this week, new and existing businesses will soon be able to access BizPaL, a Canada-wide system designed to simplify access to information about business permits, licences and other requirements needed to establish, operate and grow an enterprise.

Once this is set up, information about necessary permitting will be available through the portal, which the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will add to when that occurs.

Marg Misek-Evans, Sarnia’s chief administrative officer, said now that City Council has approved the municipality joining the network—at no cost to the City—the implementation process will begin, making sure that the administrators have information on all the various permits required for all business sectors.

There is no fee for businesses doing the search other than that which they will incur for whatever permit is being sought. BizPaL was set up by the Federal Government under Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada in 2005. Provinces and territories (including Ontario) pay a fee for the use of the BizPaL network, but municipalities do not.

“This is definitely a service that our business community needs,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to updates regarding the implementation, which we understand will be coming shortly.”



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Members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce are welcome to participate in a conference call to find out more about the Industrial Conservation Initiative, a cost savings program for manufacturers. The program has recently been expanded to electricity consumers with an average monthly peak of 500 kW or more.

The 90-minute call is hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and takes place next Thursday, June 1, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m. in the Chamber boardroom at 556 Christina St. N., Sarnia.

Those who cannot attend in person are invited to email Monica Shepley, Manager of Advocacy and Policy Development, for options on how to connect to the call.

The call is designed to give Chamber members in the manufacturing sector an opportunity to speak with professionals connected with the Ministry of Energy and the Independent Electricity System Operator as well as with Matt Brunette, the new Energy Liaison at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.


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