Our Weekly Green Mail Newsletter

The Chamber’s latest weekly on-line & email newsletter is here.  Click here for the September 1 edition. You’ll find business info regarding the Labour Day holiday, details on the release of our new report and research on ‘the sharing economy’, and info on a new inspection blitz launching today through the Ministry of Labour. All that, and local events, too! use. 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.

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 potential for currency wars, led by China.
If there was any doubt about China’s importance to the global economy, the frenzied reaction to a 3% depreciation in the renminbi should make it clear: When China sneezes, world markets catch a cold. So should we be worried about a currency war? Will countries race to devalue their currencies in order to match China or gain a competitive advantage?
Read 5 Minutes for Business.
For more information, please contact Hendrik Brakel.

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.

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.

Please join us in celebrating NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK 2015 

Power – At What Price??

Chamber Network calls for assurance that partial sale of Hydro One will not impact electricity prices

Generic Hydro

In a letter submitted to Premier Kathleen Wynne today (Thursday August 20), the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and a coalition of 36 Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade requested evidence that the sale of a portion of Hydro One will not directly impact electricity prices in the future.
While we are cautiously optimistic about the sale, there are details that have yet to be determined. The OCC and the Chamber Network are concerned that it could adversely affect the cost of doing business in the province, including adding to the rising price of electricity. As such, we are seeking clarity from government on how the sale will impact electricity prices.
The Ontario Chamber Network is committed to being an active participant in any discussions about the future of Ontario’s electricity system. On July 8, the OCC released the most widely consulted report in the history of the organization and our membership, Empowering Ontario: Constraining Costs and Staying Competitive in the Electricity Market.

Ontario Pension – A Step In The Right Direction

Tuesday August 11, the Government of Ontario announced that it will expand the comparability rules under the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). However, business owners remain concerned about the introduction of a new pension plan and the impact it would have on the cost of doing business.

The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the government’s decision to expand the definition of comparability under the ORPP to include some Defined Contribution (DC) plans. With this change, employers that already provide certain DC pension plans for their employees will be exempt from contributing to the ORPP. The St. Thomas & District Chamber is also encouraged by a longer phase-in period announced today, which will help many Ontario businesses transition into the plan.

“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction” said Chamber President & CEO Bob Hammersley, “However, we remain concerned that the ORPP in its current form will have a negative impact on business competitiveness.”

In June, the St. Thomas & District Chamber, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), and a coalition of over 150 businesses, sector associations, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade came together to urge the government to expand its definition of pension plan comparability to include capital accumulation plans, including, but not limited to, Defined Contribution plans.

Despite today’s announcement, the Chamber warns that in its current form, the ORPP will raise costs for the majority of businesses who operate in the province, including those employers that offer non-comparable plans like Group RRSPs. Recent OCC survey data indicates that if faced with mandatory increased contributions under the ORPP, 44 percent of businesses would reduce their current payroll or hire fewer employees in the future.

The St. Thomas & District Chamber remains deeply concerned about the cumulative burden facing Ontario employers. Rising electricity prices, the introduction of a cap and trade system, and the ORPP will further add to the cost of doing business in Ontario. This is why we, along with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, have asked the government to conduct and publicly release the results of an economic impact analysis of their proposed pension plan.

Following considerable advocacy efforts by a coalition of businesses led by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the government committed to releasing a cost-benefit analysis of the ORPP before the end of the year.

The Price of Power

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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.


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.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 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!

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. www.evolvecollaboration.com/CCC/

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“.

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

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