National Small Business Week Is Coming

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce will have a busy schedule of events for our community and our Members during National Small Business Week, October 18 to 24.  As we plan ahead, our focus now is toward Exhibitor registration for our 15th annual Business Sample Show. Click on the event listing in the column at the right for specific event details and how your business or organization can participate.

Key events during Small Business Week include:


October 21 – Business Sample Show, St. Anne’s Centre. Public hours: 4 – 7 p.m.

Exhibitor registration for the Business Sample Show is open now to all businesses and organizations that are Members of the St. Thomas & District Chamber.  Call us now for an Exhibitor Information Kit at 519-631-1981.

October 22 – Enterprise Elgin Business Plan Competition, final round. New Sarum Diner, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Produced by the County of Elgin & the Elgin Business Resource Centre. Co-sponsored by the Chamber.

October 23 – myFM’s Spirit of St. Thomas Awards. The Chamber co-sponsors this event, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., at St. Anne’s Centre on Morrison Drive.

Please join us in celebrating NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK 2015 

Business Matters – And What Matters to Business


The federal election is coming, and we’re talking to candidates and the parties on issues that matter to business.

Click here and see what the Chamber network is doing.

Our Weekly Green Mail Newsletter

The Chamber’s latest weekly on-line & email newsletter is here. Click here for the September 29 edition. This week, details on tomorrow’s Business After 5 event and some excellent door prizes, info on our All Candidates TV show produced by the Chamber and Rogers TV and how to watch it online or via the Rogers cablesystem, an invitation from Fanshawe College, plans for our annual Business Sample Show October 21, and info on when voting starts for the Spirit of St. Thomas Awards to be presented October 23. 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.

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.

Elgin Middlesex London All Candidates Show


The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce has worked with Rogers TV to produce a 60-minute TV program featuring candidates seeking election in our community.  The program is being show daily this week in multiple time slots on the Rogers cablesystem, and will continue to shown regularly as the October 19 election approaches.  For the latest schedule visit and check the St. Thomas schedule. You can also view our program online. Click here to watch at your convenience.

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:

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.

5 Minutes for Business


In this edition of 5 Minutes for Business, Hendrik Brakel, our Senior Director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy, looks at the real importance of the government’s budget surplus.
Never in Canadian history has such an issue of public finance so dominated the election campaign. Even before the government announced a $1.9-billion surplus for 2014-2015, each party was using the issue as a powerful symbol of economic responsibility. How important is it really to have a budget surplus? What impact will it have on the economy?

Read 5 Minutes for Business to find out.

For more information, please contact Hendrik Brakel.

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