Our Weekly Green Mail Newsletter

The Chamber’s latest weekly on-line & email newsletter is here and filled with events and info about and for local businesses and their employees. Click here for the November 24 edition. We’re looking ahead into 2016 and inviting your participation in a province-wide survey, but the deadline to participate is this Friday. Please join us and ensure the views of St. Thomas and District are heard and seen.  You can also get info on our next BIG Business After 5 coming next week on December 2. It features an incredible $600, 2-wheeled prize that scoots! Read-on for more. Green Mail is released by the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce every Tuesday and posted here on the Chamber website and through links on our social media including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Come and get it here, or get your own email subscription. It’s free. To subscribe, just click on the link in the column on the left side of this page.

5 Minutes for Business


Where the Rubber Hits the Road: Tough Decisions Ahead
In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, Hendrik Brakel, our Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, looks at the tough economic decisions the new federal government will have to make and the impact those choices could have on our economy.
Canada’s new government is off to a great start! People are cheering the new Cabinet and the return of the long-form census. But, there are tough decisions ahead. For instance, the Parliamentary Budget Office now projects larger deficits, $3 billion next year and almost $5 billion in 2017. How will the government deal with this situation while still making good on its promises? What does this mean for personal taxes? For business?

Read 5 Minutes for Business to find out.


How Confident Are You In Ontario’s Economy?

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is working with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and dozens of community Chambers across Ontario to collect and share information in a major upcoming release.

Help us shape Emerging Stronger 2016 by taking our latest survey. The results of this survey will form our Ontario Business Confidence Index, one of the most significant measures of business opinion in Canada.
By taking a moment to complete the survey, you could win two roundtrip tickets to anywhere Porter Airlines flies.
Please note that this survey closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 27.

THANKS For Your Support


The Chamber’s 15th annual Business Sample Show was a key event for us during national Small Business Week.  Pictured here, Duane Orth of St. Thomas Energy with a visitor playing their plinko game.  The St. Thomas Energy display featured info and displays on energy savings offers and devices, including the wide variety of efficient lighting equipment.  The display was voted Most Interactive by our event judges.

We’re also congratulating EBWN (Elgin Business Women’s Network) for their win as most creative display, and Gillian Weatherall of St. Thomas for her $500 cash award in our exhibitor Passport program.

The Chamber sincerely thanks our exhibitors for participating, and every who attended.


We are definitely #StThomasProud and happy to showcase the wide variety of products and services offered to and in our community.

Chamber Comment: TPP helps to secure our economic future

Following several days of tough negotiations in Atlanta, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce salutes the successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“This is an exciting moment for Canada,” said the Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “I want to thank our negotiators for their hard work in securing an agreement that will help create jobs, spur innovation and increase consumer choice across Canada, while positioning us at the forefront of global trade developments.”

Canada’s prosperity is intimately tied to its ability to compete internationally. One out of every three Canadian jobs depends directly or indirectly on trade. The TPP will give Canada preferential access to an economic zone covering 800 million people and 40% of the global economy. Already, TPP countries account for the vast majority of Canadian exports and cross-border investment. “We’re looking at huge gains for Canadian farmers, food processors, and companies in forestry, mining, aerospace, financial services and information technology, among other industries.

“Of course, trade negotiations are a process of give and take and it will be important for the government to take seriously the concerns of any affected sector, and to partner with them to ensure their competitiveness. The measures announced to compensate the sectors most affected are a good starting point,” said Mr. Beatty.

Key highlights for business include:

  • Immediate elimination of import duties on the majority of Canadian exports to TPP markets
  • Access to new markets like Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, where Canada currently does not have trade agreements
  • The potential for high-growth countries like China, Indonesia and the Philippines to join TPP in the future
  • New disciplines on state-owned enterprises to make sure that Canadian companies can compete on a level playing field
  • E-commerce rules that will nurture the growth of cloud computing and other data technologies essential to Canadian business competitiveness
  • Provisions that will make it easier for Canadian services companies to get their people in and out of foreign markets
  • Tools to help small businesses take advantage of the agreement and manage their supply chains
  • Enhanced protections for investment and intellectual property so Canadian companies have the confidence to expand their presence and license products across the Pacific

“Everyone can agree: we can’t let the TPP happen without us. Left out on our own, others would take our place in regional supply chains. And Canada would forfeit a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the rules that will govern trade for the next 10, 20 and 30 years,” concluded Mr. Beatty.

Cap & Trade – And Protecting Ontario’s Economy

The Government of Ontario’s decision to develop and implement a province-wide cap and trade system comes at an important time in the global climate change landscape. After a period of relative inaction, a number of national and sub-national jurisdictions have moved ahead recently with strategies to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the International Carbon Action Partnership, there are currently 17 emissions trading systems in operation worldwide and an additional 15 in various stages of development—a rapid increase from just four in 2010. Ontario’s business community understands the need for action to address climate change. If designed correctly, the government’s proposed cap and trade system could present some significant opportunities for Ontario.

Over the past few months, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has been working with its Members and the broader business community, many of whom have practical experience in other jurisdictions that currently employ carbon pricing policies, to identify their top concerns regarding Ontario’s proposed cap and trade system. The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is working with, and assisting, our colleagues at the Ontario Chamber and in dozens of Chambers across Ontario in the creation and distribution of a new report we call Clean Profits: Pricing Carbon and Protecting Ontario’s Economy Under Cap and Trade.  In this report, we have translated these concerns into a set of recommendations for government. Underlying these recommendations is a common message: to design an effective cap and trade system, businesses need to be part of the solution. Among our top recommendations are for government the direct the cap and trade proceeds in a way that helps businesses in the transition to a lower-carbon economy, and to ensure that the structural realities of Ontario’s economy are reflected in the design of the system. As of yet, few details of the cap and trade system have been released publicly. Without knowing how the system will impact their bottom line, businesses looking to grow and invest in Ontario face a difficult decision-making environment. The business community understands that the design of a cap and trade system takes time, but it is important that the government make an effort to minimize this uncertainty.

Ontario Pension – What’s Up? Here’s the latest…

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), and a coalition of major Ontario employers are calling on the provincial government to outline to the employer community the details of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. In a letter addressed to Premier Kathleen Wynne, a coalition of more than 150 organizations laid out five specific questions that reflect the collective concerns of Ontario employers.

“The St. Thomas & District, and Ontario’s entire employer community, know that without greater clarity, the proposed pension plan could have a direct, negative impact on jobs and the economy”, says Bob Hammersley, President & CEO of the St. Thomas & District Chamber. “This is why we continue to advocate for a solution that supports business growth. The concerns summarized in today’s letter illustrate that we have not yet found that solution.”

The primary concern of the employer community remains with the ORPP’s potential economic impact. Businesses in the province face increasing costs from a number of sources – rising electricity rates, a new cap and trade system, and some of the highest workplace safety insurance premiums in the country. There is deep concern that the proposed pension plan will further contribute to this cumulative burden. This joint letter followed the government’s recent revision to the proposed plan’s comparability rules under the ORPP, which now include defined contribution (DC) pension plans with a combined contribution rate of 8 percent and where the employer contributes at least 4 percent.

The coalition includes employers of all sizes, in addition to companies across a diverse range of sectors, including construction, insurance, manufacturing, and mining. More than 40 organizations across the Chamber Network have also signed on, in addition to industry and trade associations. Other questions that need to be addressed are:

  • How will the ORPP impact Ontario’s GDP, jobs, and investment?
  • What assumptions has the Government made to arrive at its revised definition of comparability?
  • How will the government ensure that the ORPP is a cost-effective plan?
  • How will Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) be implemented while preserving their advantages for employers?

“Government is moving ahead with a brisk timeline and some employers will begin making ORPP contributions in less than 18 months,” added O’Dette. “With so much uncertainty around plan components, Ontario businesses are not ready. We are concerned that a lack of clarity means that the Government doesn’t have answers for the very important questions which remain unresolved.”

“The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce and Ontario employers will continue to work with the provincial government to find a solution that will meet the needs of Ontario’s business community while addressing the challenges Ontarians face later in life”, added Hammersley.

For the complete text of our letter to Premier Wynne, click here to connect to the Ontario Chamber’s website.

Changing Labour Laws??

Chambers of Commerce across Ontario, St. Thomas & District included, continue to have major concerns over the growing burden facing businesses and the people in them. Electricity costs, the proposed Ontario pension, cap & trade enviro fees, and now new proposals on labour laws.

The Chamber of Commerce network feels that additional proposals could add to the cumulative burden, impacting jobs and the economy.

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), has called on the province to avoid proposals that would substantially affect Ontario’s competitiveness, jobs, and the economy.

Timed to coincide with the final consultations of the Ontario government’s Changing Workplaces Review, the OCC, the St. Thomas & District Chamber, and over 30 chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the province, have publicly released their submission, which expresses concern over previous deputations under consideration by the Review. Many of those recommendations would result in significant changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, and would increase the cost of doing business in Ontario. Click here to view and/or download our submission to the Ontario government.

Wanted: Businesses & Shoppers


Info & Registration:  shoptheneighbourhood.ca

St. Thomas & District are in… You should be, too!

Time To Get A Grip


Fueled by companies with names such as Uber, Autoshare and Airbnb, the Sharing Economy is a very real force in our economy.  The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and dozens of other local Chambers across our network, has a new report and research calling upon governments at all levels to move quickly and boldly to adapt and realize the potential. Issues such as gaps in insurance and tax compliance need to be addressed. Our report is titled Harnessing the power of the Sharing Economy and includes several recommendations that could make Ontario the first jurisdiction in the world to take a comprehensive approach to address the growth of the Sharing Economy.

The Sharing Economy is not something that only impacts larger urban areas. For example, a recent local search by the Chamber of the Airbnb website confirms well over 100 local listings in St. Thomas, Port Stanley & Port Burwell.

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