The Price of Power

rszEmpowering Ontario_St Thomas & District 1

Our latest report has launched a lot of conversation on rising electricity costs.

The price of electricity in Ontario is set to rise over the next two decades, adding to the cost of doing business in the province.  On Wednesday July 8 we joined with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and dozens of local Chamber offices across the province to release the report called Empowering Ontario: Constraining Costs and Staying Competitive in the Electricity Market, in which we call on the Government of Ontario to take immediate action to constrain rising electricity costs and help businesses stay competitive.  Our report attracted unprecedented media coverage with over 200 media hits and features in all major media outlets. The report was featured on CTV News and Global News on the evening of its release.  Here’s a sample of the coverage we received, including official responses from all three provincial parties, and our letter back to Minister Chiarelli.

Sample of Media Coverage:
CBC News

St. Thomas Times-Journal
Sudbury Star
Toronto Star
Toronto Sun
Quinte News
Windsor Star

The Chronicle Journal
Financial Post
The Globe and Mail
Metro News
Sarnia Observer

Responses from all three provincial parties:

Ontario Liberal Party (with OCC response)
Ontario PC Party
Ontario NDP

Click here to view and/or download our complete report.


5 Minutes for Business


In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, Hendrik Brakel, our Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, looks at how the international economy will affect Canada.
Greece is once again at the precipice, insolvent and in need of another €85 billion to stave off collapse and recapitalize its shattered banks. At the same time, China’s stock market is in a 1929-style meltdown. Either one of these events would be a big shock to the global economy, but to have both at the same time is an economic earthquake.
What does it all mean for Canada? The outlook for commodities depends very much on global demand. Collectively, the European Union is the world’s largest economy. The world’s largest consumer of commodities is China. How long before this wave hits us, and how hard will it hit?

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

Making Headlines on the ORPP

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

On Tuesday June 2, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne urging the government to expand its definition of pension plan comparability to include capital accumulation plans, including (but not limited to) Defined Contribution plans.  Signed by the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce and over 150 other chambers, boards of trade, associations, and businesses, the letter made waves across Ontario media outlets.  Since the release, the letter has been the subject of over 60 media hits in publications and broadcast outlets across Ontario.  Here’s a sampling of the attention generated:

Toronto Star
Queen’s Park Question Period
Question Period in the House of Commons

Response from the Hon. Mitzie Hunter:

“I certainly welcome the perspective of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.  Throughout public consultations I hosted earlier this year, I heard directly from the OCC and its Members on a number of occasions, including directly from many of the signatories of this letter.  I’ve also participated in a series of teleconferences with local Chamber presidents, and have met with the OCC.

Through this consultation, we heard a wide range of opinions on the definition of a comparable plan. Some groups advocated for universality while others suggested a broader definition. We know generous DC plans exist.  But, we also know that Ontarians would benefit from a predictable stream of income for life.

Right now, we’re busy analyzing all feedback to ensure we get the plan design right – I certainly welcome the recent feedback from the OCC as we work to finalize these decisions. My focus right now is ensuring we deliver the best plan possible.

We remain committed to working with business as we move forward with the implementation of the ORPP”

– Hon. Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan

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 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.m. to participate.

Credit Card/Debit Card processing – We’re very proud to offer what we see as the best credit card/debit card program in Canada. It’s easy to enrol, easy to use and easy to understand! 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.  Depending on volume of sales and frequency of use, choose one of two paths – whichever is best for you: a flat rate/per transaction fee that’s simple and predictable for all domestic transactions at 2.60% + 10 cents per transaction; or a more traditional program with a VISA rate of 1.49%, MasterCard at 1.49%, Interac debit at just 5 cents per transaction and the options to accept Amex, Discover and more. New: Mobile Debit for your Smartphone!  Check our website at 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:

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 and click on the Chamber logo.  Their website will prove our savings and compare our plan with others!

EVOLVE Collaboration – this is the latest addition to our Member Benefits Bundle and extends significant savings in online collaboration services including audio and video teleconferencing and production/delivery of webinars.

PanAm Games Torch Arrives In Style!


We’re thrilled to have been a part of the PanAm Games Torch run June 17.  The Chamber’s nominee to carry the Torch, Doug Tarry, was part of the procession as it arrived at the west end of the city.  Also shown here, the Torch arriving for local ceremonies at the L&PS station downtown.  The Chamber says WELL DONE to 10 local runners who carried the Torch, and to our colleagues at Port Stanley Terminal Rail for making the arrival spectacular with a runner on the front of a PSTR locomotive.  Of 130 communities across Canada to welcome and host the PanAm Torch, we’re told that only two have included a railway in the welcome.  Nice work by all involved!!


A Canada that Wins


When the federal election is held this fall, and in the coming weeks and months leading up to it, the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce will join with our partners at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and in Chambers and Boards of Trade across Canada to bring four critical business issues front and centre.

Click here to view and/or download our position and policy information in a document we call “A Canada that Wins“.

This Affects ALL Employers

  • New Employment Standards Poster Requirement In Effect

Effective in mid-June of this year, Ontario adopted new legislation that requires employers to provide all current employees with a copy of version 6.0 of the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Employment Standards poster.  New hires must be given a copy within 30 days of their date of hire.  Ministry-prepared multi-language translations of the poster are available.  For the online path to the English version of the poster click here.

Members are welcome to call the Chamber office for links to additional information on this requirement.

A Celebration of Local Excellence





THANKS for a great night!


CONGRATULATIONS to our 2015 winners.

The 2015 Free Enterprise Awards Reception was held Wednesday May 13 at St. Anne’s Centre on Morrison Drive in St. Thomas.  To everyone who attended and supported our event, we humbly say thank-you.  The comments we have heard from people attending tell a great story. “I learned a lot tonight”… “Very heartfelt presentations”… “There are some truly amazing people here”.

We couldn’t agree more.

There were four winners in two categories this year.  2015 Free Enterprise Awards of Merit:  Sandra DiMeo of Ferguson DiMeo Lawyers; Elgin Travel & Cruises; and the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation.

One Free Enterprise Master Award was presented this year:  Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services for completing over 100 years in business and community service.  They became the first insurance brokerage ever to win this Award.

We are definitely #StThomasProud!  Congratulations to all of the 2015 winners.  You make our community a better place to be!

The 2015 Free Enterprise Awards are made possible with the support of our sponsors:

PROGRAM SPONSORS:  Gorman-Rupp of Canada; the Workforce Planning & Development Board; Reith & Associates Insurance and Financial Services; and the Elgin Business Resource Centre.

RECEPTION SPONSORS:  Graham Scott Enns LLP, Chartered Accountants; RBC Royal Bank; Fanshawe College St. Thomas Elgin Regional Campus; ARC Financial Group; and Quai du Vin Estate Winery.

MEDIA SPONSORS:  myFM 94.1 St. Thomas; Photos by MG; Freeman Audio Visual Canada.

Back From Ireland – See What You Missed

Our latest Chamber tour group has completed a 9-day tour of Ireland. They returned May 21.  The Strathroy & District Chamber co-ventured with the St. Thomas & District Chamber to offer this exclusive tour of southern Ireland with visits to Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny and even an overnight stay at the incredible Dromoland Castle.

Special thanks to Joyce Wilson for sharing some shots from what we’re told was an exceptional trip.





Where to now?

As we have for the past four years, the St. Thomas & District Chamber, along with other Chambers of Commerce regionally and across North America, can now offer exceptional group pricing on business and/or pleasure tours to destinations around the globe.  We will soon be considering our next offer.  China has, so far, been the most popular destination but we want  to hear from Members on wants and wishes.  Where would you like to go?  Let us know with a quick call or note to the Chamber office. Just hit the Contact Us tab above to reach us.



Ontario’s Budget 2015 – Analysis & Comments

Is the Province doing things for us – or to us?

Ontario’s 2015 Budget has been released and the staff at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce have prepared a summary of issues that impact the business community.

Click here to see more.

join St. Thomas Chamber Facebook Group
Join our Mailing List
join Green Mail list

SearchableOnlineDirectory Searching for Local Businesses or Products?
Searching for a Job?

Local labour market information at your finger tips. Locally focused job, education and training information for the areas of Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford counties.


Chamber Events

Serving the communities of:

St. Thomas, Central Elgin & Southwold including Port Stanley, Belmont, Shedden, Fingal, Talbotville, Sparta and Union


In compliance with the implementation of the federal Privacy legislation, we have posted the privacy policy adopted by the Chamber's Board of Directors here

Chamber Group Insurance

Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan - Canada's #1 benefits plan for small firms can provide your business with a comprehensive and competitive health, dental, and disability program customized to meet the needs of your employees! Regardless of the size of your firm we can find a plan that's right for you! Visit our website today to find out why Chambers Plan is Canada's #1 benefits plan for small firms!

Chamber Plan Group Insurance