This Week’s Green Mail…

Click here for our latest weekly issue of Green Mail.  Inside: What the business community needs to know about the new Ontario GHG Cap & Trade announcement; details on upcoming events; and more. The St. Thomas & District Chamber produces and distributes this business news and community info newsletter each week.  You can subscribe to it and get an email copy via the link on the left side of this page, or view it here on our website, or see it via the Chamber’s social media posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


5 Minutes for Business

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In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, Hendrik Brakel, our Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, examines what’s driving income inequality in Canada and what can be done.

The gap between rich and poor has been widening in most OECD countries. In Canada the top 1% earns about 12% of all income, up from 8% in the early 1980s. In the U.S., the top 1% earns 23% of income, up from 15% in the 1980s. What’s more troubling is that income growth for the average family has been fairly flat.
We believe that this is driven by technology, trade, and much tougher global competition. These are causing fierce competition for highly skilled knowledge workers while reducing the demand for low-skilled jobs.
What can we do about income inequality? If we know employers will pay more for skills, then part of the response is improved education and training. But the other part of the response is to foster more innovative firms that develop the new technologies and productivity to compete and win. The firms that succeed in the global economy will happily pay higher wages, hire more people and create prosperity for Canadians.

Read 5 Minutes for Business.
For more information, please contact Hendrik Brakel.


Free Enterprise Awards – A Celebration of Local Excellence

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The 2015 Free Enterprise Awards will be presented in the Free Enterprise Reception on Wednesday May 13 at St. Anne’s Centre in St. Thomas, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Event tickets go on sale next week.  Watch this space – and our Events listings on the right side of this page – for more.


What Does Business Want?

2015PreBudgetCoverOur 2015 Pre-Budget Submission outlines seven key recommendations that we believe the Government of Ontario must adopt in its 2015 Budget in order to return to fiscal balance and spur growth in our economy.

Our submission outlines our increasing concern with how new provincial programs and policies are impacting Ontario’s competitiveness and job creation. Over the past year, the Government of Ontario has implemented or announced several new initiatives that have a direct impact on business, including increases to the minimum wage, a new Waste Diversion Act, a review of the Labour Relations Act, the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), and a potential carbon pricing regime. The government needs to seriously consider the cumulative impact of these initiatives on business.

Addressing the fiscal situation should also continue to be top priority for the government. Eliminating the deficit is an important step the government can take to improve Ontario’s competitiveness and create jobs in the province.


The Benefits Our Members Can Get… a quick look

Information overload is something we all share and, here at the Chamber, we understand. And that’s why we’ve assembled a quick checklist for Members to see and consider the growing number of benefits, discounts and services that come with Chamber membership.

The information below is a quick summary. By all means, if you see a program or product you’d like more information on, the Chamber staff are eager and able to respond from our office or to put you in-touch with program agents and reps.

First, let’s be clear on who can participate in Chamber programs and services, or take advantage of significant price advantages we offer across the entire Chamber network.

It’s easy:  Once a business or organization joins the Chamber, all of the personnel in that business or organization can get involved, attend or participate. In some cases, as explained below, our opportunities extend to retirees and immediate family members. You can check another section here on our website for additional details, too.  Go to  the “Membership” tab above this article and below our logo here on our main page. Under that tab is a section called “Membership Benefits”.

Fuel discounts – Our national program with Esso (and Exxon / Mobil in the US) earns you savings of 3.5 cents per litre at any of over 1,000 Esso outlets anywhere in Canada and 18,000 Exxon or Mobil stations in the states.  It’s free to enroll.  Register as an organization for multiple vehicles in a fleet or as an individual. Contact Esso sales at 1-888-330-2419 or EssoSales@fleetlink.com to apply.

UPS Courier discount – Our newest addition to our Benefits Bundle connects you with the largest courier and shipping company in the world.  Save 30% on courier shipments to Canada, the US and worldwide destinations. Additional savings on imports, customs brokerage fees & more. 75% savings on heavyweight freight, full load or LTL.  No charge to enroll. No minimums. No maximums.  Call 1-800-MEMBERS (636-2377) M-F, 8 a.m. to 6 p.mn. or visit www.membersbenefitprogram.com/stdcc

Credit Card/Debit Card processing – Our Chamber Merchant Services program is managed by First Data Canada and not directly connected to any bank so you can choose where your account is locally.  Full range of on-line, mobile and point-of-sale processing equipment.  Monthly account fee just $5.  VISA rate is 1.55%, MasterCard, 1.60%, Interac debit, just 5 cents per transaction. Amex, Discover and other card rates – just ask. New: Mobile Debit for your Smartphone!  www.ChamberMerchantServices.ca for more. Follow us on Twitter for the latest deals & news @ChamberMerchant

Insurance – personal Group Plan – The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce has been a strong supporter of our national Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan since it started in 1974.  Life insurance, health, drug, dental, disability, critical illness, travel and more. Ours is the #1 group insurance plan for small business in Canada. Our local licensed agent is Jeff Crossett at ARC Financial. 519-637-0181, Ext. 204, or you can explore our Group Plan through our national website: www.chamberplan.ca

Insurance – property & vehicle Group Plan – Cars, trucks, boats, motorbikes, homes, cottages and more.  The savings we achieve by pooling Chamber Members together as a group can be phenomenal.  Novex Group is our insurer.  Our local licensed professional agent is Reith & Associates.  Call 519-631-3862 or go online to www.ReithandAssociates.com and click on the Chamber logo.  Their website will prove our savings and compare our plan with others!

Data Backup & Recovery – the most critical part of any business or organization is the data in your computer systems. Secure cloud-based protection is available to all Members at a 15% discount through Quantum RBS. Hardware failures, theft, flood, fire or any type of disaster could cripple your operation. Quantum RBS takes away the worry and the grief.  Details at 519-633-8903 or email sales@qrbs.ca


Moving Forward Together

An Employer Perspective on the Design of Skills Training Programs in Ontario

Our latest report via The Ontario Chamber of Commerce presents the business perspective on the steps the Government of Ontario should take as it evolves the province’s suite of training and employment services.

By encouraging businesses to invest more in their employees, these new employer-driven programs could be an important step toward improving Ontario’s economic competitiveness. But they will only succeed if they are designed with the needs of employers in mind.


Ontario Budget Summary

Spending, deficit, and debt are going up.

This budget increases government spending by $3 billion, from $127 billion in 2013-14 to $130 billion in 2014-15.

The deficit will grow from $11.3 billion to $12.5 billion over the same period. Meanwhile, Ontario’s overall debt will grow to $289.3 billion by end of 2014-15 and $317.2 billion by the end 2016-17. The province’s debt-to-GDP ratio will grow to an alarming 40.3 percent in 2014-15.
Servicing the debt will cost $11 billion in 2014-15, approximately $3 billion more than government spends on colleges and universities.

The budget includes an annual program review savings target of $250 million for 2014-15 and $500 million for each of the subsequent two years.

Our Analysis…

Ontario requires a robust plan to reduce spending and tackle the debt. Controlling spending in an effort to reduce the deficit and debt is a top priority for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce network and the number one means by which Ontario can guarantee its long-term prosperity.
This budget falls short on the pace of deficit and debt reduction. The annual program review targets are too modest. For the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s vision for a smarter, more efficient government, see Unlocking the Public Service Economy in Ontario.


Pension Reform?

An Employer Perspective on Fixing Ontario’s Pension Problem

Our latest paper finds Ontario’s employers want a pension system that supports our long-term competitiveness, targets groups that require additional pension support, and builds on the province’s status as a global leader in financial services. Weighed against these and other objectives, employers are firmly in favour of Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs). They are much less supportive of enhancing government-managed pension programs. Learn more…

 

 


Beneath The Surface

Our latest report reveals that Ontario’s Ring of Fire, the mineral resource-rich region in the James Bay Lowlands, will generate up to $9.4 billion in new economic activity over the first 10 years of operation and sustain 5,500 jobs annually in Ontario.The report, Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire, makes it clear that the short-and long-term economic impacts of the Ring of Fire will be shared across the province.

According to our study, the mining development could generate more than $25 billion across numerous sectors in Ontario by 2047, including $2.7 billion in revenues for the financial services sector and $1.2 billion for the wholesale and retail trade sectors.

Based on extensive analysis and consultation, our report also outlines the key challenges that stand in the way of the development of the Ring of Fire and a 13-step action plan to overcome them.

Read the report

Read coverage in the Toronto Star


“A stronger economy and more jobs…”

The new federal budget presents the continuity of a plan for economic growth that builds on Canada’s economic and fiscal advantages. The measures announced by the government will help Canadian businesses prosper and compete.

“We have urged the government to focus on where Canada needs to be in five or 10 years, even if it means making tough decisions now. The government has acted on some of the key elements of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Top 10 initiative for restoring Canada’s competitiveness. The result will be a stronger economy and more jobs,” said Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Perrin Beatty.

The Canadian Chamber particularly welcomes the money for major infrastructure projects: “Nobody cuts a ribbon when a new sewer pipe is installed. It’s just not a dramatic moment,” said Perrin Beatty. “But thousands of Canadians idling in their cars because of traffic congestion or bridge delays can tell us what investments in infrastructure can mean to our quality of life and productivity.”

There is a strong link between the investment in core public infrastructure, such as roads, transit and utilities, and the productivity performance of all sectors of the Canadian economy. Equally clear are the consequences of underinvestment. “The success and competitiveness of Canadian business depends on modern and efficient infrastructure,” said Beatty.

Measures to better match young workers with the skills needs of business are also a step in the right direction. The Canadian Chamber has made skills its top priority for the last three years and will continue to work closely with the government and the entire business community. In this regard, the Canadian Chamber also welcomes the government’s initiative on First Nations education, announced prior to the budget.

The Canadian Chamber has been advocating the important role remote communities can play in our economy. The money allocated to bringing internet access to more Canadians is a positive step forward for northern businesses.

Finally, the Canadian Chamber encourages the government to maintain its policy of allowing market forces to set services and prices for Canadian consumers. Unnecessary government intervention, however well intended, has a long record of damage and unintended consequences in Canada.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing some 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at Chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.


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